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Ear Infections FAQ

Q: Are ear infections contagious?

Question mark puzzle piecesNo. Ear infections are not contagious, however the cold or flu, which often precede an ear infection episode, is.

Q: What does an ear infection feel like?

The first symptom is usually a loss of normal hearing as the middle ear becomes filled with fluid. As the infection progresses, a sharp pain can originate from within the ear. The outer ear often reddens, becoming warmer with increased blood flow as the body attempts to fight the infection naturally.

Q: What causes ear infections?

An infection occurs when our body is a host to an agent such as a virus, parasite, bacteria or fungi that flourishes in such a way that it harms us. An infection, in the middle ear or elsewhere, is often a signal that the body’s immune system is weakened.

Most ear infections occur in the days following a cold or flu, which are usually viral and for which antibiotics are ineffective.

Children most at risk are between the ages of six and 18 months and often experience one or more of the following:

  • Traumatic birth
  • Formula rather than breastfed
  • The common cold
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infected adenoids or tonsils
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke

Q: How can I tell if my baby has an ear infection?

If your child has recently had a cold or sinus infection, he or she may be susceptible to an ear infection. Common symptoms include:

  • Tugging at the ear
  • Reduced appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Ear drainage
  • Foul smell from ear
  • Trouble hearing
  • Impaired balance

Q: How do I treat an ear infection?


The more popular home remedies for ear infections include:

  • One-two drops of warm olive oil in each ear
  • A warm compress applied to the affected ear
  • Elevating the child’s mattress for better drainage


The traditional medical approach to ear infections include:

  • A course of antibiotic therapy, usually amoxicillin
  • Surgery to puncture the ear drum and install tubes

Q: How long do ear infections last?

The fever associated with an ear infection may resolve in two or three days. However, chronic ear infections can last several weeks or longer.

Q: Why do children get more ear infections than adults?

There can be a combination of factors:

Anatomical – The Eustachian tubes, connecting the inner ear with the throat, are smaller in children and more horizontal, potentially impairing proper drainage.

Developmental – The still-developing child’s immune system may not be capable of successfully fighting the infection.

Awareness – Infants may not have yet acquired the ability to clear their throat, blocking the openings of the Eustachian tubes in the throat.

Q: Can ear infections be prevented?

Preventing ear infections is no different than preventing any other type of health issue in your child:

  • Breastfeeding for the first six to 12 months
  • Avoiding exposure to second hand smoke
  • Reducing contact with those who have a cold
  • Frequently washing your hands and your baby’s hands
  • Providing proper nutrition and restful sleep

Q: Will my child need antibiotics?

Antibiotics kill bacteria, not the viruses that are usually associated with ear infections. Many medical practitioners have misused or over prescribed antibiotics.

If you consult a pediatrician, make sure your insistence on a prescription isn’t merely a reaction to your sense of helplessness and desire to do something to help your child.

More helpful would be a visit to a chiropractor who can check your child for spinal misalignments in the upper spine, which may be impairing your child’s nervous system and immune system function.

Q: Why do so many children get ear infections?

Childhood ear infections may be common, but they aren’t normal. The fact that about 30% of infants do not get ear infections suggests ear infections aren’t universal. What do these children who are able to avoid ear infections have in common?

Besides better hygiene and other obvious preventative strategies, many parents have their baby checked by a chiropractor shortly after birth.

A quick examination can determine if spinal misalignments from the birth process are present. Parents who take this measure often report fewer ear infections, better breastfeeding and their children enjoy overall better health.

Q: Can a chiropractor help with ear infections?

Chiropractors don’t treat ear infections. Yet, they help children suffering from this common childhood illness by addressing the underlying spinal misalignments impairing the nervous system and consequently, the immune system.

Probably the most common cause of spinal misalignments is the birth process. Even so-called “natural” childbirth methods can produce spinal misalignments.

Today’s “modern” birth procedures can rush the delivery to fit into hospital schedules. Medications and vacuum extraction can further stress the baby’s spine and nervous system.

Thankfully, chiropractors can more easily correct these insults to the spine at an early age before longstanding misalignments produce muscle and soft tissue alterations often seen in adults.

Q: What is a chiropractor?

Chiropractors are natural health doctors who look at health and healing through the lens of nervous system integrity.

The compromise of brain-to-body communications, usually along the spine, can affect the function of the entire body. Chiropractors locate these nervous system interferences and reduce their affects by realigning the spine using their hands or a hand instrument.

Q: How does chiropractic work?

Chiropractic is based on the scientific fact that your nervous system, composed of your brain, spinal cord and all the nerves of your body, control and regulate every cell, tissue, organ and system.

Instead of using drugs or surgery, chiropractors help restore proper nervous system control of the body so it can function as designed. As it does, symptoms usually resolve, naturally.

Q: Are chiropractors real doctors?

After college undergraduate studies in the sciences, attending a four-year government accredited chiropractic college and passing a rigorous licensing examination, Doctors of Chiropractic are granted a license to practice chiropractic. Like other types of doctors, they attend annual continuing education programs to maintain their license.

Chiropractors are doctors who consciously chose a discipline which does not practice surgery, prescribe drugs or use radiation.

Q: Is chiropractic scientifically proven?

Yes. The link between the integrity of the nervous system and the function of the human body has long been established by scientific inquiry. As has the role of misaligned spinal bones negatively influencing the organs and tissues of affected nerves.

These simply physiology realities, combined with millions of successful cases resolved by thousands of chiropractors for over a century reveal a robust, natural alternative to the traditional medical approach to health and wellness.

Q: How safe is chiropractic care?

In the words of a New Zealand government study, chiropractic is “remarkably safe.” This is especially true when compared with traditional medical treatment.

Probably the best evidence of the safety of chiropractic is demonstrated by the relatively low insurance premiums paid by chiropractors. Because of the risk associated with drugs and surgery, medical practitioners often pay 10 times as much for their practice insurance as chiropractors.

Q: How many visits will be needed?

It varies from patient to patient. Since chiropractors are relying on the recuperative abilities of each patient, recovery times naturally vary.

Children respond more quickly than adults who often have longstanding problems. Your chiropractor can often give you a fairly accurate estimate based on his or her experience with similar cases.

Q: Will a chiropractor accept my health insurance?

Chiropractic care is covered by many health insurance policies. If you have a high deductible, chiropractic qualifies for payments from your Health Savings Account.

Many chiropractors will work with your insurance carrier to confirm your coverage and make arrangements to be paid directly by them. Others will expect you to pay for your care and get reimbursed from your insurer.


Q: Will I need a referral from my pediatrician?

You never need a referral to see or consult a chiropractor. However, some HMOs, PPOs and insurance carriers may require a referral if they are to assume financial responsibility.

Q: How long will I have to wait for an appointment?

Most chiropractors offer same day appointments or will make special arrangements for emergency cases.

Q: Why use a chiropractor?

Studies reveal that those who consult a chiropractor tend to be more highly educated and report high levels of patient satisfaction with their chiropractor.

They also hold one or more of these beliefs:

High body awareness – They aren’t hypochondriacs, but they are in touch with their own body and are able to detect subtle changes indicating a potential problem.

Respect for the body – They have a great appreciation for the inborn wisdom of the body. They understand fevers, vomiting and other symptoms are actually signs the body is responding in a healthy manner.

Illness isn’t the result of a drug shortage – Antibiotics, penicillin and other miracle drugs save lives. But only the body, when capable of working as it was designed, can produce health.

Prevention is better than treatment – It’s always easier to stay well than to get well.

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