The first chiropractic adjustment was given September 18, 1895, to a person who had lost his hearing. Within three days of that adjustment, Harvey Lillard's hearing had been restored. From that first adjustment until today, chiropractors have been adjusting people who have problems with their ears. Many parents first experience with chiropractic care for their children occurs when their children develop ear infections that either recur following a course of antibiotics or don't respond to antibiotic therapy. On encouragement from their chiropractors or friends, they get their children checked for subluxations, and then adjusted. The effect of removing the interference to the nervous system caused by a subluxation is improved immune system response which allows the body to heal itself. That is the conceptual picture of how chiropractic care positively affects the ears.

Anatomically, ears are very interesting. The middle ear is separated from the inner ear by the tympanic membrane, and the inner ear connects to the inside of the mouth by the eustachian tube. The sympathetic nerve supply to the membranes and surrounding tissue comes from the first and second thoracic vertebra and travel to the head through the cervical chain ganglia, which are located right next to the cervical vertebra. The parasympathetic nerve supply comes from a cranial nerve that exits through a hole in the base of the skull and travels to the ear canal. When an ear infection occurs, they can occur in either one ear or both. This is very interesting since most ear infections are bacterial in nature, and both ears are connected to the mouth through the eustachian tubes, one would assume that if there is an ear infection, bacteria in one ear it can easily move to the other ear and infect it. Only about one half of the ear infections treated are in both ears, the other half are one sided. Clearly, there must be something more than the presence of germs causing ear infections. The logical conclusion is that in order for an ear to become infected, the ear(s) must be susceptible to infection, providing a fertile medium for the bacteria to grow.

Chiropractors look for subluxations of the vertebra which can interfere with the nerve supply to the ears. They reason that if the nerve supply is inappropriate, then the tissue will not function as well, and it will be a more fertile medium for the growth of bacteria. Although there are no specific ear infection causing subluxations, interference to the nerves supplying the ears typically comes from the neck and upper back, and correcting the subluxations found in those areas will improve the function of the ears and their ability to resist infection by bacteria. In practice and in clinical studies, patients with ear infections have responded well to chiropractic care.