Chalk it up to faulty eustachian tubes, 2/3 of my children have issues with their ears!
Blake, my 10 month old was born on a Friday. There was no hearing screening available to us at the hospital during the time we were there Fri-Sat, so as standard procedure dictates, we were referred to our local health unit and audiology dept. (we’ve been there done that which I’ll explain later)
We took newborn Blake to his first test, the exact test they do in hospital, and he failed. At that point, they do a secondary test which he also failed. Being a newborn and a c-section baby, fluid can linger SO we were scheduled for further testing several weeks later. Given our history (coming) we knew what all of this would likely mean and the audiologist at the health unit (who we know as my daughter sees her regularly) gave us the plain truth that this would likely be an issue.
3 weeks later, further testing and another failed result. Let me just say here that this…is…stressful. The whole process of testing, waiting, testing ugh all while dealing with everything else going on with a newborn, recovering from surgery, and the schedules of 2 other children etc What the tests showed at that time is that Blake has fluid in both of his ears. Is it impacting his hearing? Doesn’t seem to be, but who really knows. Will it impact his hearing down the road? Maybe. It also might clear on its own (not too likely given our history)
Given all these findings we agree with the audiologist that a pro-active referral to our favorite ENT is a good idea. We have been seeing Dr. Matthew Dickson approx every 3 months since my almost 6 yr old daughter was 6 months old. Yup.
Let’s talk about my daughter for a sec-Quinn! What a doll. Quinn failed her initial hearing test in hospital, failed all subsequent follow up tests and so began the routine of alternating appointments between audiologist and ENT. Pretty much every 3 months for each. We would go to the health dept for testing and find fluid present. We would then follow up with the ENT and confirm that fluid was present. Over and over again. The surgery to place tubes isn’t recommended until at least the age of 1 as fluid can resolve/disappear on its own during that timeframe as the internal structures of the ear grow. Quinn’s did not. What happens AFTER a year with fluid in your ears is that the fluid starts to thicken which can, and likely will, start to affect hearing which will typically then affect speech development. OMG total slippery slope. While trying to be conservative and not jump right to surgery, we monitored the situation until Quinn was 2. In retrospect, this was too long and I would not do it the same way again knowing what I know now. By the time she was a little older than 2, knowing that preschool would be right around the corner, we elected to have tubes placed in both her ears. I kid you not, THE DAY she had the tubes placed, she was a different kid. It was then very evident to us the extent her hearing had been affected. CRAP. Happy to be heading in the right direction, it was hard to know we could have helped sooner. Fast forward to preschool, kindergarten and now Gr.1….her speech has been impacted enough that it warrants regular speech therapy. We started speech path in preschool at the recommendation of Quinn’s amazing teacher. We continued it privately on and off (many frustrations here over assessments, what her needs actually were and what she was actually doing) and then got her in to the speech path program at her school in K after MUCH advocating (always advocate guys. Even if you feel like you are being annoying, advocate. If I hadn’t, she would have been left behind as she was already through the cracks. Let me put it this way, the principal at our school knows who I am after MUCH strongly worded correspondence.) She now continues to receive treatment once a week and has made/is making SO much progress. She is also highly motivated and loves to do the work. By the end of Kindergarten SHE knew she was struggling and began asking for more support which by the way is totally heartbreaking. ANYWAY She’ll be ok and is great but the whole process/journey has taught be many things and opened my eyes in many ways. Which brings us back to Blake…
Blake’s most recent appointment shows he still has fluid in both ears. He will go back in 3 months-his appointments are now scheduled with Quinn’s follow ups so we don’t have to attend multiple appointments-and then we will decide what to do. By then, he’ll be just over 1 and we will be able to make an informed decision on whether or not we want to have tubes placed….spoiler alert, he will likely get tubes.
What I want you to know, well there are a few things. Both Quinn and Blake have not suffered from ear infections. They haven’t had any chronic issues with their ears at all. They were simply born with fluid in their ears and the fluid did not drain/has not drained. Now, they WERE both c-section babies and it can be argued that by not passing through the birth canal, they missed the opportunity to have the squeezing and compression occur that MAY move fluid our of the ears. However, my first born was also a c-section baby, also failed his in hospital test, but passed all further tests and has had zero issues with his ears. So, who knows for sure.
There are still children who fall through the cracks. If the in hospital test is not performed, you really need to be proactive to schedule and attend the tests yourself. This can be a barrier and a deterrent for some. I have heard of some children going with an undiagnosed hearing/speech problem until it was caught later in school due to behavioural issues that look like not listening/not paying attention/day dreaming/shyness OR issues with language, comprehension etc
The long and the short of it is this. Ears, noses and throats are important. Have them tested, especially if your newborn is missed for whatever reason. Issues do not always look obvious like with infection AND there are tons of excellent resources available in my, your, our community!
Questions?? Looking for resources yourself or know someone who is? Let me know! I am very much in the loop and happy to help!