Ear infections are one of the most common causes of visits to the pediatrician. Why do some children get them on a recurring basis while others do not? The answer lies withing the child’s own immune system’s ability to fight infection. Factors that contribute to a weakened immune system are: physical/spine trauma, diet (dairy and sugar), repeated use of antibiotics, emotional stressors, genetics and environmental factors such as second-hand cigarette smoke, pollens and other pollutants. What does this mean? The immune system is controlled by the nervous system. Many of the sympathetic nerves for the ear are located at the top of the spine (the base of the skull). It is not uncommon for a child to have been subjected to a traumatic birth process (e.g., forceps, breech, induced labor), falls (such as out of the crib or high chair, off the parents’ bed, down stairs), or through vigorous play with siblings. These can produce stress to the vertebrae of the spine, specifically those of the upper neck, which then irritates the spinal cord and the nerves which exit through it. This in turn impairs the communication (in the form of electrical impulses) from the brain to the various organs of the body. Since all function is coordinated and controlled by the brain and nervous system, functions can be impaired over a period of time if these stressors are not eliminated. When the upper spinal nerves are affected, the immune system responds by functioning with lowered efficiency. The muscles around the neck will become tense or spasm, which in turn decreases the ability of the lymph nodes to drain and remove wastes (bacteria, viruses, toxins) from that area of the body. The fluid in the ear’s eustachian tubes will also not flow as well and it pools, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. In addition to this, if a child’s diet consists of large amounts of dairy products and refined white sugar, the immune system is even further weakened. Research shows that the amount of infection-fighting white blood cells is suppressed when refined white sugar is consumed. This means they cannot do their job effectively. Dairy products like milk and cheese are mucous producing foods that are usually not digested well. Mucous is also an attractive breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. With chiropractic adjustments, and by changing some dietary habits, we can restore the balance to a child’s body and assist it in functioning at a higher level. Adjustments are either done gently by hand or with a small instrument that gently taps the vertebrae. Children from infants to teens tolerate these adjustments well. As a chiropractor who has seen many people over the years, I know that by restoring normal balance to the spine children can become healthy. It is important that children do not become dependent on antibiotics, which create more immune system problems down the road. Our children deserve to be healthy and all of us were designed and intended for well-being, not sickness and disease.
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