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Otitis Media: Ear Infections

The Role of the Chiropractic Adjustment in the Care and Treatment of 332 Children with Otitis Media, by, Joan Fallon, D.C.

Dr. Fallon conducted a study of 332 children, ages 27 days to 5 years, with otitis media (OM) and had the results published in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1997.

She notes in the introduction that in 1990 35% of all visits to pediatricians in the US were due to OM (1). That accounted for 25 million office visits(2). A survey of children in Rochester in 1977 found that OM was second in frequency to the common cold during their first year of life.

In her study approximately 30% of the children were referred by pediatricians/MDs; 52% by chiropractors; the remaining percentage by parents and other health care professionals. Traditional intervention has included: antibiotics/prophylaxis, myringotomy, typanostomy, and removal of tonsils and/or adenoids. These treatments have had limited success in preventing the recurrence of OM and have increased problems due to severe complications(3, 4).

While compiling the data from the histories she noted the following as increasing risk factors: sibling history of OM, male, non-breastfed, exposure to second-hand smoke, group day care, early onset of OM, seasonal effect, allergy, prior antibiotic use, and a compromised immune system.

These risk factors are the major contributors to the following parameters associated with the causes of OM:

Dr. Fallon's treatment consisted of soft tissue effleurage (soft stroking massage) of specific neck muscles with specific manipulation of the joint at the base of the skull and the first cervical segment. Objective measures used to determine resolution of OM were otoscopic and tympanographic results.

The overall average number of adjustments given per child was 4.9. The average number of days for normalization of the otoscopic exam was 7.65. Normalization of the tympanograph took an average 9.26 days. The overall percentage of recurrence of OM within 6 months of initial presentation in Dr. Fallon's office was 15.56%. That means that almost 85% of the children studied did not get a reoccurrence of OM for at least 6 months! WOW!


  1. Crouteau N. Trends in medical visits and surgery for otitis media among children. Am J Dis Child 1990;144:535-538.
  2. Schappert SM, Office visits for otitis media: United States, From Vital and Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control, 214:1-18; National Center for Health Statistics 1992.
  3. Berman S, Roark R, Factors influencing outcome in children treated with antibiotics for acute otitis media, Pediatr Infec Dis J 1993;12:20-24.
  4. Casselbrant ML, Kaleida PH, Rockette HE, Efficacy of antimicrobial prophylaxis and of tympanostomy tube insertion for prevention of recurrent acute otitis media: Results of a randomized clinical trial, Pediatr Infec Dis J 1992; 11:278-286.