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Home Chiropractic Research Ear Infection (Otitis Media) Chiropractic Care of a Patient With Medically Diagnosed Chronic Bilateral “Glue Ear”

Chiropractic Care of a Patient With Medically Diagnosed Chronic Bilateral “Glue Ear”

Abstract: A subset of the ear condition known as otitis media is “glue ear.” The prevalence of glue ear is mainly in those under 7 years of age with 80% of children being affected most commonly between the age of 24-48 months. The prevalence is bimodal with peaks at 2 years of age and at 5 years, with a greater propensity for boys than for girls. Eustachian tube function or dysfunction as an etiological factor as supported by studies that found that Eustachian tube function is impaired in children with otitis media or in otitis-prone children when compared to “healthy children." The use of antibiotics in the treatment of children with glue ear is common and is motivated by the finding that approximately 50% of chronic middle ear effusion are culture positive. Failure to respond to these medically “conservative” means provides the way to opting for surgical intervention. In fact, glue ear is the most common reason for elective surgery in children. Myringotomy, tympanostomy and ventilation tube insertion with or without adenoidectomy are the elective procedures. The public health impact of otitis media is tremendous. In the United States, it is the most commonly diagnosed childhood disease during office visits among 1-4 year-olds (10). Otitis media constitutes 18% of physician visits and in 1995, otitis media alone cost the American society the staggering amount of  $3.8 billion.

For the patient with glue ear, the presenting complaint is hearing loss. It is one of the most common causes of hearing loss in children. Other symptoms of glue ear may include earache, upper respiratory tract infection and tonsilitis. The hearing impairment has negative consequences in the way of impeding the speech and language development of the child and possibly, intelligence, emotional achievement and behavior or social and emotional development. In the care of children suffering from otitis media, there are plentiful anecdotes on the success of the chiropractic intervention. However, only a few studies have been published in the scientific literature. To address this deficit, we contribute to the knowledge base on this common cause of morbidity in children by describing the successful pediatric chiropractic care of a patient with medically diagnosed chronic bilateral “glue ear.”

Case Report: At the request of his mother, the patient received chiropractic care following the unsuccessful outcome of naturopathic, dietary and medical intervention. The patient was cared for with adjustments to sites of vertebral subluxations. Following 12 patient visits within a 2-month time period, the patient’s “glue ear” resolved as verified by an otorhinolaryngo specialist. Additionally, tympanometric testing  prior to and following chiropractic care objectively demonstrated an improvement in tympanometric function. Furthermore, his mother noted that her little boy’s speech had improved significantly when compared to the time of the boy’s initial chiropractic visit.

Conclusions: This case report provides supporting evidence on the effectiveness of chiropractic care in children with “glue ear.”

Michael Beattie 1 * and Joel Alcantara 2 * §

  1. Life Private Practice of Chiropractic, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
  2. Research Director, International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, Media, PA , USA and Private Practice of Chiropractic, San Jose, CA, USA

* These authors contributed equally to this work
§ Corresponding author

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Presented at Canadian Consortium for Chiropractic Research. Montreal, Canada, July 9-12, 2004