Osteopathy, an Option for Recurrent Ear Infections in Babies
Children are susceptible to ear infections
According to the College of Family Physicians of Canada, more than 75% of children will have at least one ear infection before the age of three, and close to half will have at least three.
Middle ear infections are painful and often cause fever and a sore throat. They are caused either by a virus (25%) or a bacteria that affects the throat, the nose or the ears. Ear infections generally occur when the Eustachian tube is blocked. The blockage traps secretions in the middle ear, making it vulnerable to infection. It also increases the pressure behind the eardrum and causes pain.
Young children are more susceptible to developing ear infections because their Eustachian tube is more horizontal than in adults and as a result, secretions cannot flow as easily. They are also exposed to respiratory infections, which can lead to ear infections. Finally, the bones of the skull may have been pulled or blocked due to forceps or vacuum extraction during delivery, hindering drainage of the ORL areas.
When an ear infection occurs, it is important to consult a physician. Given that most ear infections heal on their own, antibiotics are not prescribed systematically. When the symptoms are not serious, waiting a few days is generally recommended before prescribing antibiotics to children over two years old.
The role of the osteopath
Osteopaths cannot cure ear infections. However, they can promote and accelerate the healing process and break the vicious cycle of recurrent ear infections. To do so, they intervene with regard to mucus drainage and blood and lymph exchange by releasing the bones at the base of the skull and the temporal bones, when necessary, and relaxing tensions that restrict the upper opening of the rib cage.
Given the malleability of an infant’s bones, osteopaths can reduce the pressure on the auditory canal. For older children who are susceptible to ear infections, osteopaths can release the bones of the skull and the back of the throat.