Our ears are miraculous parts of our body. When the foetus is about 15 weeks floating in an ocean of amniotic fluid in the mother’s womb it starts to perceive first sounds. Listening to Mum’s heartbeat and learning about the sound of her voice is a deeply nurturing and comforting experience for the growing baby.
Through hearing the child starts to engage with its environment; first social skills develops – a smile, turning its head towards Mum’s voice or desperate cry in a noisy tube. Through hearing the child learns to give expression to its own voice, from babbles to first words and simple sentences at about 2 years of age – hearing is the first step for developing speech! Both hearing and speech feed the child’s cognitive development, the expression and development of the self and behaviour.
Infection of ear, nose and throat is common in children, especially at this time of the year. Often, these illnesses overlap each other or one leads into the next.
The most common ear infection is of the middle ear – the tiny chamber where sound waves get transmitted on their way to be interpreted as sound by the brain. Middle ear infection (otitis media) can happen acutely or recurrently which then can lead to ‘glue ear’, a middle ear cavity filled with sticky fluid.
Children are more susceptible to middle ear infection because the eustachian tube which helps to drain the middle ear is considerably shorter in kids and runs more horizontal which makes it much easier for any bugs from the nose or mouth to make their way to the ear. Also, the membranes which line the back of the nose and mouth create one continuum with the ones lining the middle ear which might explain swelling or irritation of the former can contribute to blockage of the ear too.
Given all this, the consequences of untreated otitis media can be much more far reaching than the simple event of inflammation and temporary or prolonged hearing loss. Hearing loss in a growing child can lead to difficulty in developing speech and pronunciation. The latter of which often further impact upon the child’s behaviour and social and emotional well-being.
And where does osteopathy fit in with all of that?
As Osteopaths we are interested in establishing why a child is particularly susceptible to (recurrent) ear infection. Assessment and treatment is often a process of meeting the question “What is the underlying aetiology?” After considering any environmental factors, allergies or mouth breathing as a cause, we might find that there is a retained birth strain, intrauterine moulding, a history of chest infection(s), traumas such as a fall onto the back of the head. These can have the potential to disturb the optimal mechanics of the bones and membranes making up the head and predispose a child to middle ear infection.
The treatment involves ensuring the anatomy and physiology of the structures around the ear and the whole body work optimally. All those structures and their mucosa need to have a good blood supply and efficient lymphatic drainage – which can be approached with gentle osteopathic treatment.
My name is Flurina Thali and I am one of the osteopaths at the Sunflower Center and I am looking forward meeting you and your child.
Find out more about Flurina HERE
To book an appointment with Flurina, please email us HERE or Call 020 8694 2714