Sometimes you’ve got to see and experience something before you can believe it. This is often the case with Chiropractic and it is certainly the case when considering Chiropractic for things like recurrent ear infections, congested sinuses and nasal issues. For us as a family, unfortunately this is something that we’ve been witnessing right at home. With our oldest son Cain, we’ve seen the benefits of Chiropractic on his ears and upper respiratory tract throughout his entire life but particularly recently with the whirlwind of weather changes the poor little guy has been hit for six.
So today, we’ll dive away from some of the more traditional complaints of neck ache, headaches, migraines, back pain and sciatica that’s often associated with Chiropractic. Today we’ll break down the 3 major areas; ears, noses and sinuses and try to unpack the how and why Chiropractic might benefit.
Ears & Chiropractic
Ear infections are exceptionally common throughout the world. So common that it is excepted at least 25% of all kids will suffer from repeated ear infections. It can start effecting kids from as young as 6 months old, and in the case of kids, recurrent ear infections may last till around 6-8 years of age. However, as you’d know, ear infections don’t just magically cease at childhood. Particularly with the humidity, climatic shifts and for those of us that love diving under water and swimming, ear infections are a common recurrence right throughout adult life too.
There’s a ‘real estate’ problem in the upper neck and it’s an incredibly popular and overcrowded place to be. Sinus cavities, eustachian tubes, vertebrae, adenoids, tonsils and muscles all live in very close proximity to each other.
This overcrowding situation makes it very easy for viruses and bacteria to get trapped. When they are trapped they build up, causing an inflammatory response and they also begin to grow and develop into an infection. Most commonly, treatment for infections involves antibiotics and saline solutions to hopefully flush away the virus and or bacteria, then anti-inflammatories for the pain. If really persistent, childhood surgery inserting grommets is a very common procedure.
What if we could address the real estate problem? Chiropractic works by addressing the overcrowding and inflammation that’s existing in the neck. By adjusting the spine we make sure that the vertebrae are both aligned and living in it’s correct location while not bringing over unwanted guests in the form of spinal inflammation and swelling. Additionally we reduce the muscle swelling and tightness which could be pressing beyond its border wall and crashing the party of the eustachian tubes.
With our son, ear infections have caused him to miss two days of school in the past 3 weeks, 2 swim lessons have been cancelled and he’s been on antibiotics for a total of 10 days. If you’re a parent you know the pain, it’s hard sitting up holding your child so they can fall asleep because it hurts too much to lie their head on the pillow, or they say they are having trouble hearing you.
The one extra tool I’ve got in my tool kit is checking and adjusting him right at home. Providing a little natural relief, to ease the pressure and tension in a way that antibiotics and anti inflammatories just can’t touch. It’s amazing to put my hands on his neck and feel the heat and irritation that’s there when the infections are at their worst. Hopefully, for us this is his last round of antibiotics. I believe we have successfully avoided grommets and fingers crossed Chiropractic will be his only long term management of this really stubborn problem.
In regards to adults and ear infections, to this day I still have clients post adjustment, almost immediately notice that they can either hear better or that the fluid is finally draining from their ears again. We might not adjust your ear, but adjusting your spine may massively improve ear issues.
Noses & Chiropractic
Nasal infections are commonly medically known as rhinitis. They are often broken down into categories of allergic, acute and chronic rhinitis. As you’ve probably noticed we are in allergy season right now and approximately 20% of us will experience a type of allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever. Anecdotally, particularly here in Newcastle the rates of hay fever seem quite high potentially due to the bowl shaped geography of the Newcastle region and a combination of mining and construction particles in the air & the salt water vapour spraying off the ocean. If you cast your mind back to the 2019/20 bushfires, nasal congestion was rife with the unprecedented levels of air pollution abounds.
The real estate issue in the head and neck means the nasal passages are again in a tight and congested space. Ideally, all drainage goes through the nose, via the throat (oesophagus) and right down into the chest (lungs).
Chiropractic can work very well in some cases of nasal infections as it reduces the real strain and congestion on the upper airway and drainage pathways. Similar to removing the traffic accident that’s blocking up the freeway- checking and adjusting the spine alleviates the congestion, allowing the nose to drain freely. If these areas can drain, the chances of the virus or bacteria proliferating, growing and causing an infection is minimised. The offending particles can be flushed out and the beautiful immune system defence network which involves trapping the offending particles in mucous and excreting them out of the body can actually work versus hitting the roadblock of a congested pathway resulting in infection.
Nasal infection is often a result of a virus or bacterial irritation of the blood vessels or nasal mucosa that’s lining the nasal passages. If mild, antihistamines and anti-inflammatories have been shown to help by muting the allergic response and reducing the swelling and irritation. However, nasal passages face the same real estate problem as the ear canals. We’ve got a drug free solution with Chiropractic.
Sinus & Chiropractic
As we’ve mentioned above, sinus, noses and ears are incredibly interrelated and all fighting for space in the same exceptionally high demand real estate that is the upper neck and head. Sinus infections are commonly known as sinusitis and are either acute or chronic in nature. There’s an inflammatory reaction that happens within the sinus tissues that irritates the area. In some cases the build up of polyps may develop which means there’s now inflammation and a physical new neighbour that’s moved in too.
Treatment is common in the form of nasal decongestants and anti inflammatories which target reducing the chemical irritation of the sinus lining. The theory being to target the virus or bacteria that is present within the sinuses and to reduce this inflammation.
As we’ve touched on, Chiropractic aims to address the real estate problem and inflammation issue. Correct cervical alignment maximises the capacity for the sinus to drain while at the same time reducing any inflammation that is present.
What is often missed with inflammation is that if there is inflammation anywhere- there’s inflammation everywhere. Inflammation located deep inside the sinus cavity can actually be minimised by reducing inflammation in the neck or even in the stomach for that matter.
Sinus massage is a very useful tool to consider too. As I’ve seen quite a few times in our office, sometimes people’s sinus are so irritated, even lying face down on our chiropractic table is enough to cause pressure on the sinus. You might not be able to do the adjusting, but try a simple, very light sinus massage. Starting from between the eyebrows. Gently massage your fingers out towards the end of the eyebrows, then repeat below the eyes starting from the nose and working out. Gently stroking, small circles and very light tapping may all assist.
Don’t forget the neck. As we know the sinuses need to drain down to the chest so finding the big strong muscles on the front of your neck, gently massage down these muscles in the direction of the chest. Think while you are massaging, that you are shifting that fluid out of the sinuses and towards the chest.