The human ear has three parts: the outer ear, which is the part you see, the middle ear, and the inner ear. When part of the ear becomes infected, you experience a condition commonly called an ear infection. For most people, an ear infection happens in the middle ear.
The ear is constantly bombarded with bacteria and viruses. Sometimes those travel inside the middle ear. When those germs get trapped in the middle ear, fluid and puss can build up and create pain and pressure.
Anyone can develop an ear infection, but children seem to develop them more frequently than adults, largely because their Eustachian tubes are narrower and more horizontal in design than those in adults. This makes them more prone to fluid buildup.
Children who suffer from colds on a regular basis are also more prone to ear infections than those who are healthier. Babies who are fed from a bottle are at higher risk of developing ear infections than those who are fed from the breast because of the position of the feeding.
The main symptom of an ear infection is extreme pain and pressure in the ear. Adults may also experience:
In children, symptoms of an ear infection may include:
Ear infections occur when bacteria or viruses get trapped in the middle ear. Often this occurs when someone has a cold. The Eustachian tubes, the narrow tubes that run from the middle ear to the back of the throat and help drain fluid from the ears, can become clogged, swollen and inflamed during a cold. This inflammation blocks the drainage of fluid and allows the infection to grow.
Subluxation of the upper cervical area can also contribute to poor drainage of the fluid in the inner ear. This can occur due to a fall or even due to the birthing process, where tremendous pressure is placed on the upper part of the neck. The subluxation can cause pressure on the eighth cranial nerve, called the vestibulocochlear nerve, which innervates the ear.
The viruses and bacteria that cause ear infections can come from a variety of sources. They may be present in the ear regularly, but the other complications that prevent drainage allow them to grow into an infection.
If you or your child is suffering from an ear infection, chiropractic care can help support the body's own healing abilities by allowing the Eustachian tubes to drain more effectively. Routine chiropractic care can help your body better fight ear infections in the future.