The ear is made up of three distinct parts; the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear which is deep within the temporal bone. Ear infections are the most common illness to affect pre-school children with up to 90% of children experiencing one before their 3rd birthday. When an ear infection occurs it is the middle ear which is affected. For most children, an ear infection will not be a concern, but for others it will be a recurring experience for them and they may also go on to develop Glue Ear as a result.
As a Cranial Osteopath I treat children with recurrent ear infections and Glue ear frequently. First of all I examine the available movement in their Temporal Bones; these are the bones at the side of the skull in which the ear is located. I observe the position of the Temporal bones compared to each other and compared to the Occipital Bone at the back of the skull. Flat headedness in babies may affect the movement of the ear bones and the adjacent bones of the skull. Babies who have had a forceps delivery are more likely to have increased tension in the Temporal Bones due to the pressure applied during delivery. By reducing the tension in the Temporal bones the function of the Eustachian Tube is improved and this in turn helps fluid to drain from the Middle Ear. I also examine upper rib cage movement and the tension in the muscles that connect the ribs to the ear bone surfaces, as many ear infections originate in the Upper Respiratory Tract as a result of coughs and colds.
Successful treatment must also include the GP as ear infections may continue to occur occasionally. The fluid in the middle ear is thick and mucosy and can take time to drain. However over time, the ear infections become less frequent and the Glue Ear begins to resolve.
Frank Kelleher D.O., R.N.M.H. Cranial Osteopath at Elmwood Lodge
Frankfield, Douglas, Cork.