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  • Nanci Miklowski, ND

Holistic Therapies for Earache

Give these therapies a try the next time you or your child suffers with an earache: contrast hydrotherapy foot bath and eustachian tube massage. Both are exceptional holistic therapies for soothing earache pain and facilitating the release of pressure that comes with ear or respiratory infection.


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Contrast Hydrotherapy Foot Bath

It's hard to imagine that a foot bath can help relieve ear pain. But it can! Because of the way water acts to affect circulation, a hydrotherapy foot bath can help draw fluid build-up away from the ear. It's an excellent way to strengthen your immune system, alleviate congestion, soothe sore muscles, and improve circulation. It involves immersion of the feet in cold and warm water for specified times. You're probably familiar with using it for muscle injuries such as a sprain.


Contrast Foot Bath How-To:

  1. Fill one basin with ice water, and another with very warm water. Have plenty of towels on hand as water will splash.

  2. Submerge feet in basin of warm water for 3 minutes.

  3. Immediately switch to cold water for 30 seconds.

  4. Repeat the process 3-5 times. Always end with the cold water.

  5. Gently dry legs and feet and put on warm socks.

  6. Rest for 20 minutes.

If there is inflammation or open wounds on the legs or feet, varicose veins, thrombosis or phlebitis, do not perform a contrast hydrotherapy foot bath unless supervised by a medical professional.


Eustachian Tube Massage (ETM)

Helps alleviate discomfort and pain that accompanies congestion and inflammation associated with earache and respiratory illness. It works by gently stretching the soft tissue that lines the tube and is suitable for an adult or a child. If you are not familiar, the job of the eustachian tube is to:

  • Balance pressure in the middle ear, keeping it equal with air pressure outside the body.

  • Protect the inner ear from nasal secretions.

  • Drain middle ear secretions into the area between the nasal cavity and upper throat.

ETM - DIY at Home for Yourself or Your Child:

Keep in mind that the ear may be very sensitive to touch if there is an infection, so go gently to start. Some kids may not want to be touched anywhere near or around the ear, which is understandable.


  1. Using your index or middle finger, feel behind your ear lobe for the bony bump. With firm, steady pressure slide your finger down until it slips into a groove between the ear lobe and the jaw.

  2. Follow that groove down the neck with your finger, sliding down (with the same steady pressure) until you reach the collar bone.

  3. For a small adult or a child, it may help to tilt your head to the shoulder opposite of the ear that you are massaging. (Ex: If massaging right side, tilt head to left shoulder.)

  4. Repeat 3-4 times per side, about 3 times a day.


Video instructions for ETM


Resources

Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier. (chapter 40), 335


Mooventhan, A, and L Nivethitha. "Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body." North American Journal of Medical Sciences 6.5 (2014): 199–209. PMC. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049052/


Giudice, L., "Otitis Media" as cited in Pizzorno, J. E. Textbook of Natural Medicine. (2013) St. Louis, M.: Elsevier. (chapter 195), 1678-1684.

Personal Communication: Eli Camp, N.D. 9 Jan 2017.

Medline.com "Eustachian Tube Function and Anatomy." Accessed 10 Jan 2017: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/874348-overview

Channell, M., "Modified Muncie Technique: Osteopathic Manipulation for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and Illustrative Report of Case." J. Amer Osteopathic Assoc.,(May 2008) 108, 260-263. Accessed 4 January 2016: http://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2093698

Cunsolo, E. et al., "Functional anatomy of the Eustachian tube." Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol.(2010) Jan-Mar;23(1 Suppl):4-7. Accessed 10 Jan 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20152070

PubMed Resources for various Eustachian tube massage techniques, manual and using vibratory medical devices. Accessed 08 Jan 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=eustachian+tube+massage

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