When a child is irritable or pulls at their ear due to an ear ache, the ear drum is usually red with fluid build-up in the middle ear (behind the eardrum) causing pain, often accompanied by fever and occasionally loss of hearing. Other symptoms may include dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Children with symptoms of an ear infection should always be seen by their GP. It can be a very painful condition when acute and often antibiotics are prescribed repeatedly. In some cases the ear infection does not clear up completely and this may lead to fluid remaining in the middle ear.
The middle ear connects to the back of the nasal passages via the Eustachian tube which is short, narrow and not yet fully vertical in babies and therefore not so effective. This tube drains any excess fluid from the middle ear thereby maintaining a healthy environment in the ear.
Many ear infections originate in the Upper Respiratory Tract as a result of coughs and colds. Allergies or exposure to irritants (cigarette smoke), drinking or using a dummy while lying on the back causes this tube to become inflamed and as a result blocked with mucus. Birth trauma may also cause asymmetry and reduced mobility of the skull, spine and associated structures.
The osteopathic approach looks at the drainage of the ear and throat as well as the mobility of the head, spine and ribcage. The ear canal is housed within the temporal bone, and it is this bone that is assessed along with blood and lymph flow to the area. Sometimes it is found that that the temporal bone is not fully expressing the tiny movement associate with health and that it is ‘stuck’. Gentle osteopathic manipulations can free up this movement which may improve the drainage of the ear.
The lymphatic system plays an important role in tissue health as it transports waste products away from the tissues allowing more nutrients into the tissues. Therefore, an increased lymphatic and venous drainage from the head and neck will decrease the inflammation and fluid build-up in and around the middle ear, and will improve blood flow to the area promoting healing and repair.
The treatment plan includes releasing all of these restrictions with either cranial and myofascial release techniques or other osteopathic manipulative techniques.
The overall result of treating all of these areas is an improved function of all body systems. A healthy environment (structure) ensures optimal function.
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