Ear Infections

Peer Reviewed Journals:

1) Prevention and Therapy of Serous Otitis Media by Oral Decongestants. A Double-Blind Study in Pediatric Practice. Olson, AL; Klein SW; Charney E. MacWhinney JB Jr.,McInerny TK, Miller RL, Nazarian LF, Cunningham D.. et al Pediatrics Vol. 62, May 1978, 679-84.

  • Pharyngitis-57% of patients with phyaryngitis were treated on the first day of sore throat with spinal manipulative therapy and salt water gargle. All were symptom free the second day. Laryngitis- 100% of patients with laryngitis were treated on the first day of illness, with spinal manipulative therapy and voice function returned to normal within one day.

2) Characteristics of 217 children attending a chiropractic college teaching clinic.Nyiendo J. Olsen E. JMPT, 1988; 11(2):78084.

  • The authors found that pediatric patients at Western States Chiropractic College public clinic commonly had ordinary complaints of ear-infection, sinus problems, allergy, bedwetting, respiratory problems, and gastro-intestinal problems. Complete or substantial improvement had been noted in 61.6% of pediatric patients of their chief complaint, 60.6% received “maximum” level of improvement while only 56.7% of adult patients received “maximum” level of improvement.

3) Ear Infection: A Retrospective Study Examining Improvement from Chiropractic Care and analyzing influencing factors. Froehle RM J Manipulative Physiol Ther 19 (3): 169-177 (Mar 1996)

  • This was a study of forty-six children aged 5 years and under in a private practice in a Minneapolis suburb. All care was done by a single chiropractor, who adjusted the subluxations found and paid particular attention to the cervical vertebrae and occiput. Sacral Occipital Technique-style pelvic blocking and the doctor’s own modified applied kinesiology were also used. Typical care was three adjustments per week for one week, then two adjustments per week for one week, then one adjustment per week. Interestingly, children with a history of past antibiotic use was associated with a less favorable outcome. From the abstract: “93% of all episodes improved, 75% in 10 days or fewer and 43% with only one or two treatments. Young age, no history of antibiotic use, initial episode (vs. recurrent) and designation of an episode as discomfort rather than ear infection were factors associated with improvement with the fewest treatments… Improvement was based on parental decision (they stated that the child had no fever, no signs of ear pain, and was totally asymptomatic), and/or the child seemed to be asymptomatic to the treating DC and/or the parent stated that the child’s MD judged the child to be improved.


4)Allergy airway disease and otitis media in children. Todd NW, Feldman CM, Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 1985: 10(1):27-35.

  • Musculoskeletal eustachian tube dysfunction is an important etiological factor for otitis media. The eustachian tube dysfunction manifests primarily by poor ventilation from the nasopharynx to the middle ear, by allowing negative pressure in the middle ear.

5) Blocked atlantal nerve syndrome in babies and infants. Gutman G. Manuelle Medizin(1987) 25:5-10.

  • From the abstract: Three case reports are reviewed to illustrate a syndrome that has so far received far too little attention, which is caused and perpetuated in babies and infants by blocked nerve impulses at the atlas. Included in the clinical picture are lowered resistance to infections, especially to ear-,nose-, and throat infections.”

6) Infections of the ears, nose and throat. Blood HA. Osteopathic Annals 6:11 November 1978, p.46-48.

7) Diagnosis and treatment of TMJ, head, neck and asthmatic symptoms in children.Gillespie BR, Barnes JF, J of Craniomandibular Practice. Oct. 1990, Vol 8, No. 4.

  • From the abstract: “Pathologic strain patterns in the soft tissues can be a primary cause of headaches, neck aches, throat infections, ear infections, sinus congestion, and asthma.”

8) Structural normalization in infants and children with particular reference to disturbances of the CNS. Woods RH JAOA, May 1973,72: pp.903-908.

  • Post-traumatic epilepsy, allergic problems, otitis media and dizziness have been relieved by cranial manipulation

9) The role of the chiropractic adjustment in the care and treatment of 332 children with otitis media. Fallon, JM. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics Vol 2, No. 2 1997 p.167-183.

  • From the abstract: This pilot study included children from 27 days old to five-years-old, was on the effects of chiropractic adjustments on children with otitis media used tympanography as an objective measure.
  • Results: the average number of adjustments administered by types of otitis media were as follows: acute otitis media (127 children) 4 adjustments; chronic/serous otitis media (104 children) 5 adjustments; for mixed type of bilateral otitis media (10 children) 5.3 adjustments; where no otitis was initially detected (74 children) 5.88 adjustments. The number of days it took to normalize the otoscopic examination was for acute 6.67, chronic/serous 8.57 and mixed 8.3. the number of days it took to normalize the tympanographic examination was acute: 8.35, chronic/serous 10.18 and mixed 10.9 days. The overall recurrence rate over a six month period from initial presentation in the office was for acute 11.02%, chronic/serous 16.34%, for mixed 30% and for none present 17.56%.
  • Conclusion: The results indicate that there is a strong correlation between the chiropractic adjustment and the resolution of otitis media for the children in this study. Note: 311 of the 332 had a history of prior antibiotic use. 53.7% of the children had their first bout of otitis media between the ages of 6 months and 1 year and a total of 69.9% of the subjects in the study had their first bout of OM under a year of age. This is consistent with the findings of others

10.) Chiropractic correction of congenital muscular torticollis. (Child also presented with repeated ear infections)

  • A 7-month-old male infant with significant head tilt since birth was brought to a chiropractic physician for evaluation. The infant’s history included ear infections, facial asymmetry and regurgitation. Significant spasm of the left sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles, a left lateral atlas and suboccipital joint dysfunctions were present upon examination. A diagnosis of congenital muscular torticollis was made. INTERVENTION AND OUTCOME: Treatments included chiropractic manipulation, trigger point therapy, specific stretches, pillow positioning and exercises. Excellent results were obtained.
  • CONCLUSION: Suggests that chiropractic intervention is a viable treatment option for congenital muscular torticollis. Further studies should be performed to compare the effectiveness of other treatment options.

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1993 Oct;16(8):556-9

More Studies Needed!

A feasibility study of chiropractic spinal manipulation versus sham spinal manipulation for chronic otitis media with effusion in children.

A pilot study was undertaken for the purpose of assessing the feasibility of conducting a full-scale randomized clinical trial investigating the efficacy of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) for children with chronic otitis media with effusion.

Recruitment for a randomized controlled trial is feasible and could be enhanced by medical collaboration. Patients and parents are able and willing to participate in a study comparing active SMT and placebo SMT. Parents were extremely compliant with the daily diaries, suggesting that similar quality-of-life and functional status measures can be successfully used in a larger trial. We found the objective outcomes assessment involving tympanometry and otoscopy extremely challenging and should be performed by experienced examiners in future studies.

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999 Jun;22(5):292-8

Case Studies:

1) The atlas fixation syndrome in the baby and infant. Gutmann G. Manuelle Medizin1987 25:5-10, Trans. Peters RE.

18-month-old boy, recurring tonsillitis, frequent enteritis, therapy resistant conjunctivitis, suffered from colds, rhinitis, ear infections and sleep disturbances. “Immediately after (spinal adjustment) the child demanded to be put to bed and for the first time slept peace-fully to the next morning. Previously disturbed appetite normalized completely. Conjunctivitis cleared completely.”

2) Chiropractic results with a child with recurring otitis media accompanied by effusion. Chiropractic Pediatrics, 1996;2:8-10.

Author’s Abstract (Abridged) : A case study of five year old male with recurring otitis media is reviewed. Chiropractic Biophysics spinal analysis methods and adjusting procedures were applied over a six month period. During the six months of adjustments, the child had only one middle ear infection with mild effusion. In the previous year, the child had recurring middle ear infections with effusion approximately every three to six weeks.

Note: Newer studies in the effectiveness of antibiotics for middle ear infections in child are reporting that child treated with antibiotics are more likely to have recurrences. Antibiotics are known to weaken resistance to disease and that is probably why children are so affected by their use.

3) The response of a patient with otitis media to chiropractic care. Thill L, Curtis J, Magallances S, Neuray P. Life Work, 1995; 3: 23-28.

Authors’ Abstract: This paper discusses the case of a nineteen month old female with a chronic history of acute episodes of suppurative otitis media. Treatment consisted of four series of antibiotics over a six month period with no improvement; antibiotics were stopped and then began a four week course of intensive chiropractic care, with complete resolution at two weeks.

4) Vertebral subluxation and otitis media: a case study. Phillips, NJ. Chiropractic: The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation. Jul 1992, Vol: 8(2), pp.38-9.

Author’s abstract: This is the case of a 23-month-old female with chronic otitis media who had orthodox medical treatment with no relief of symptoms. She had sustained improvement with chiropractic care. A mechanism for the etiology of chronic otitis media is suggested. From the paper: “Conventional medical treatment had been administered, including numerous regimens of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Six months before having been seen, bilateral myringotomies with tympanostomy tube placement were performed. The tubes were still in place on presentation.” Three days after initial adjustment (at C-1) the patient’s ear drainage and pain were notice-ably reduced. Child was soon free of all symptoms.

5) Chronic otitis media: a case report. Hobbs DA, Rasmussen SA. ACA J of Chiropractic, Feb 1991; 28:67-68.

This is a case study of a 38-year-old female. She had previously suffered from headaches and colitis and they resolved after earlier chiropractic care. Her hearing loss and chronic otitis media symptoms subsided and hearing was restored through chiropractic care with an emphasis on cranial adjustments. (Note from Neurological Fitness Magazine V.1 No.4, July 1992: “Recently, Dr. Peter Fysh (Proceedings of the National Conference on Chiropractic and Pediatrics (ICA), 1991;37-45 hypothesized that cervical adjustments relieve blockage to lymphatic drainage from the ears.)

6) Aerotitis Media: A Case Report. Doyle EP, Dreifus LI, Dreifus GL. Chiropractic Sports Medicine, 1995; 9: 89-93.

Authors’ Abstract: the objective of this report is to determine if spinal manipulation affects symptoms associated with aerotis media (barotitis), which commonly affects underwater divers and airplane travels. This study involves a recreational scuba diver that has a history of eustachian tube blockage that is exacerbated by diving.

7) From Neurological Fitness Vol. V, No. 2 Jan 1996:

The 33-year-old male patient presented with a feeling of fullness in his ears, hearing loss, and tinnitus: these problems were not relieved by a course of antihistamines (patient had a history of eustachian tube blockage since childhood). Following Diversified adjusting (primarily C2, C5) audiometry and tympanometry findings normalized. The patient’s subjective complaints were alleviated as well.