It’s always concerning when a worried parent brings a baby to me at the practice because it usually means that they’ve exhausted all other options.
Often, a mum or dad will notice something wrong and will start by rushing to the doctors, where they’re often told that the case is ‘non-urgent’ or ‘it’ll settle down with time’. This, of course, is generally the right advice but it does nothing for the poor parent – the one who knows their child better than anyone else and realises instinctively that although they’re not seriously ill, something still ‘isn’t quite right’.
This time, however, it was obvious from the outset that there was something very amiss. The second the concerned mum walked through my door and begged me to treat her six month old, I could see that her baby boy was unwell.
Not only was his skin a strange shade of pink, with a bluey purple tinge, he also was subdued, lethargic and very floppy.
Thanks to all those media and advertising campaigns, most people now know these as ‘red flag’ symptoms – and for me, alarm bells were ringing and worst case scenarios flashing through my mind. I was fully prepared to send him straight to A&E – or even drive him there myself if necessary.
However, he began to improve slightly and I quickly took his temperature. Normal. This was reassuring – so I began to relax a little and tried to do a little detective work (which generally includes an extensive examination and a large list of questions!)
My investigations revealed that he was suffering badly with blocked sinuses and general congestion. His mum told me that he had already been given three lots of antibiotics, none of which had helped.
There are several techniques that Osteopaths can employ to unblock sinuses. However, we have to be particularly careful with infants and only use the most delicate of manoeuvres. I chose a method that gently relaxed the sinuses which immediately relieved the pain – and alleviated the tension in his diaphragm, neck and shoulder muscles.
I then filled a basin with hot water added a few drops of decongestant oil, surrounded him with tissue, then, by cupping his back, positioned him at an angle so that his could breathe in the vapours.
“By the count of ten, your son will be sick.” I told his mother – but I was wrong. It was the count of five. Without going into too much detail, he threw up…a lot. Then within minutes he started to look less uncomfortable, had much more vitality – and his colour started to change back to a healthy pink.
From then on we tried to find ways in which his lifestyle could be adapted to keep his sinuses healthy. For example, as he got older, we looked carefully at his diet. Antibiotics can really alter the microbiome of the gut so we made sure that he ate healthy whole foods that would encourage the growth of good bacteria and reduce mucus.
How do I know that his treatment was a success? Well, sixteen years on, he’s a happy, intelligent, and very healthy young man –but one who possibly has an unexplained hatred of the scent of decongestant oil.