I’m going to recount my personal story as a mother with a baby suffering from an ear infection / fluid buildup. It was a moment for me that changed my perspective of this condition forever.
Let me start with the fact that I’m a chiropractor. But let me tell you that I am not against antibiotics or other medical intervention, when necessary. My approach is balance, and that includes the use of many different modalities when necessary.
I have a strong background in body biomechanics and anatomy, so I will break down the mechanics of the ear canal and why drainage of the ear is so important when dealing with ear infections or irritation.
The ear canal is a tube, running from the outer ear (the part you see) to the middle ear which is where your ear drum (and other little bones called ossicles) sits. The eustachian tube is the tube that follows out of that middle ear area and travels to the back of the nose. This tube functions to control pressure within the middle ear. When there is added fluid in any of these areas, people experience a tremendous amount of pain due to the change in pressure.
Whether or not the ear irritation leads to a true bacterial / viral infection or not is not the basis of what I treat as a chiropractor. My job is to decrease the fluid pressure by utilizing specific techniques within the mouth, outer ear and lymphatics to help with fluid movement and drainage.
Here’s my story:
We were in Florida vacationing. Our baby girl was 3. We had been there nearly a week and it was the night before our our flight home. We laid down for bed (with a departure time of 5am) knowing that we had a long day of travel ahead.
That’s when the terror struck. Our baby girl (seemingly out of nowhere) started screaming. A blood curdling scream. And tugging at her ear. Just one. It was her left, and I’ll never forget that because I was with her, on that side of her body the entirety of the night.
So, it began. Treatment. I knew that we only had a few hours to get through the night, and I knew that we weren’t going to travel with a child in pain, especially if there was a chance of rupturing an ear drum.
First, ibuprofen (to aid with the pain).
Second, I stuck my fingers in her throat, so deep that it made her gag (and cry even harder). I was working to massage two muscles in the back of her throat that help to drain fluid from the ear : Tensor Veli Palatini and Levator Veli Palatini. This is actually one of the massaging maneuvers I teach parents when they bring their children in to see me for treatment, because it’s something that they can do at home which can greatly change the trajectory of the fluid buildup and pain.
I then applied traction to her ear lobe to aid in more fluid drainage and movement. I massaged her neck, from her ear to her collar bone, as this is where a majority of lymph nodes holding fluid sit. The massaging movement helps with fluid drainage.
This continued, with strong bouts of screaming and sobbing for nearly 5 hours. She would intermittently fall asleep out of exhaustion and then wake in a crying fit of pain.
And then, all of a sudden, it was over. Just as it had approached.
And we flew home with not one tear or tug at her ear. It was what seemed at the time, a miracle, although it was really simple biomechanics and forcing the fluid to drain. Incredible the way the body is anatomically set up. I suggest you go look at the ear some time. It’s truly fascinating.
I hope this sheds some light on what it is that I do and teach here in the clinic. I keep it simple and stick to the biomechanics. I’m an adjunct to your pediatrician’s care or your general practitioner’s care. Not a replacement. And I’m here to help moms and dads in all walks of life live their best, pain free.