Complete Resolution of Chronic Otitis Media and Hearing Impairment through Chiropractic Care

Melissa Millner, DC, DACCP


A 15 month old presented at our office for chiropractic care of his chronic otitis media and hearing impairment.   He was scheduled for tube insertion 26 days after his first presentation at our office.  The parents were uncomfortable with the surgery option and hoped chiropractic could help.  After the consultation, history, exam and thermography scans it was determined he had subluxations in his upper neck, upper thoracics and sacrum.  A corrective care plan of adjustments was begun and by the pre-op appointment his ears checked clear and his hearing tested the best it had ever been.  The surgery was cancelled and he remains infection free 7 months post care despite discontinuing recommended wellness care.  There appears to be a correlation between the resolution of otitis media and the improvement of hearing with proper chiropractic care.


Otitis Media is defined as inflammation of the middle ear, which may be marked by pain, fever, abnormalities of hearing, hearing loss, tinnitus, and vertigo. 

Case Report

A 15 month old presented in our office on 7/21/03 complaining of ear infections and recurring fevers.  Later it was revealed he had tested below normal on a hearing test.  He had been on “too many antibiotics to count” according to his Mom as well as albuterol in the last 6 months.  Currently this 15 month old weighs 28 pounds and is 31” in length. 

He was never breastfed but was on infamil formula for 10 months.  Cow’s milk was introduced at that time.  Solids were introduced at 8 months.  His mom did not know of any food intolerances or sensitivities.  He began to sit up at 6 months, crawl at 8 months, stand alone at 10 months and walked at 12 months. 

He was scheduled for tube surgery as the last option given by the MDs.  The date was set for 8/18/03.  We had less than one month to work with a body weakened by months of infections and antibiotics.

Thermography testing showed severe stress in the upper left neck and lower left lumbar and pelvis area.  Palpation revealed severe tension at C1 on the left, C2 on the right with extreme spasticity of the cervical paraspinals bilaterally.  His gluteal crease deviated markedly to the left when checking for possible Logan type correction of the subluxation pattern. 

After reviewing the notes from his medical clinic, I found that in 14 months he had been prescribed 4 rounds of nystatin for thrush, 8 rounds of antibiotics for otitis media as well as eye infections, and albuterol for a wheezing complaint 10 days before presenting to our office.

The recommended care plan was four times per week for four weeks with a progress evaluation and thermography scan scheduled at that time.  They came on an altered plan due to their schedule of three times the first week, four times the second and third weeks, and three times the fourth week.  We adjusted primarily C1 on the left, left sacrum and T2.  On occasion, we also adjusted C2 on the right.  On every visit we also performed the ear tug to release any ear ossicle restriction.  On the last visit of the fourth week, we performed a progress evaluation.  My evaluation revealed a dramatic improvement in the spasm of the cervical paraspinals, resolution of the sacral subluxation, 85% reduction of the subluxations at C1, C2 and T2.  Minor inflammation and fluid remained in the right ear, but the left ear appeared perfectly cleared.   The Mom stated he was sleeping much better than he ever had in his life, his temperament was dramatically better and he had not needed to go to the medical doctor at all during his care program with us.  I recommended he remain on a frequency of two times per week, but the family could only commit to once per week. 

On 8/15/03, he was taken for his pre-op appointment.  The doctor determined his ears to be clear and cancelled the surgery, but recommended follow up tympanograms as well as two flu shots for the “fall otitis media season”.  To my knowledge she did not get him his recommended flu shots and on 8/26/03 he went for his audiology appointment.  His tympanogram showed a very slight negative middle ear pressure bilaterally with normal tympanic membrane mobility.  There was no middle ear fluid noted, all responses were within normal limits and his hearing was determined to be “significantly improved”.

He continued at once per week until 9/9/03 when he fell of the couch and landed on his head.  We saw him twice that following week and then went back to once per week.  They did not bring him in for care at all in October, but came in three times in November.  We have not seen him in the office since 11/19/03, but as of today 3/27/04 he is still otitis media free, and not visiting the doctor every few weeks due to the persistent colds and fevers he once had.


In the Mar. – April 1996 publication of Journal Manipulative Physiol. Ther.,  it was reported that based on a cohort study of 46 children ages 5 and under suffering from otitis media, 93% of the children receiving chiropractic care reported improvement, 75% in 10 days or fewer and 43% with only one or two treatments.  The study concluded this:  Although there were several limitations to this study (mostly because of its retrospection but also, significantly, because very little data was found regarding the natural course of ear infections), this study's data indicate that limitation of medical intervention and the addition of chiropractic care may decrease the symptoms of ear infection in young children.


As with all single subject case studies it is difficult to extrapolate findings from one result to treatment to the populous at large, however due to the success in this case further studies appear to be indicated, especially in light of the antibiotic resistant bacteria plague that is facing our country.  Alternative measures need to be explored in the care and resolution of otitis media.  From this case study, chiropractic appears to be a successful care protocol for this situation. 


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