Have you ever wondered why ear infections are so common in little ones? Some kids have so many ear infections, that they seem to be taking antibiotics regularly and some are even candidates for ear tube surgery. I don’t know about you, but that does not seem like much fun to me. Kids should be running, jumping, playing, and enjoying life! Not constantly run down with a sore ear and everything that comes with it! But there is a very specific reason as to why littles are more prone to ear infections than adults. This is because the eustachian tube, which is a fancy way of saying inner ear tube, in children lies horizontally, while in adults, it sits angled downward. The eustachian tube normally drains into the nasopharynx, again, just a big word for where the back of the nose meets the throat. In adults, fluid in the inner ear uses the help of gravity to slide down this tube, drain into the nasopharynx and from there, it gets swallowed so the body can get rid of it with other waste products. In kiddos, who normally have horizontal eustachian tubes, gravity is not much of a helper in this process. Little ears rely more heavily on the tensor veli palatini muscles (sounds scary but it’s really just a tiny muscle that attaches both to the inner ear and the soft palate) to pull on the eustachian tube, equalizing pressure in the inner ear and allowing it to drain into the back of the throat.
When a primary structural shift is present, it interferes with this normal process by reducing proper nerve flow to muscles such as the tensor veli palatini. When this little muscle is not able to perform its job in a streamline fashion, fluid can begin to pool in the inner ear, leading to ear infection. This can be further complicated following a respiratory infection, where there is excessive mucus and fluid trying to drain, but getting stuck in an inflamed eustachian tube.
In our office, we focus on correcting primary structural shifts to improve stability in the upper spine. By making the upper spine more stable, normal function is restored and nerve signals are able to reach the rest of the body, including the tensor veli palatini, without interference.