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Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

My 3-yr-old has just been diagnosed with having poor hearing.

(17 Posts)
HuffwardlyRudge Mon 18-May-09 10:23:16

I had suspected that her hearing wasn't great for a while, but it's hard to be sure because sometimes she's hearing perfectly well and just ignoring me! grin

So, this morning the specialise confirmed that she has "a lot of congestion" in both ears, and she did badly in the sound booth tests too.

She couldn't hear anything under 20... I don't know what that means.

It might be that the congestion is solely responsible for the poor hearing, but the consultant didn't seem to think it likely; she said that while the congestion wouldn't help and must be sorted out, it isn't enough to account for her low scores.

Next step ENT apparently.

Anyone else been down this route? Reassurance much appreciated at this point. My mind is whirring a bit.

To end on a good note, the consultant said that while some people would struggle to function with dd's level of hearing, dd is obviously not struggling at all and has an impressive vocabulary, great pronounciation and excellent comprehension [proud mummy emoticon].

HuffwardlyRudge Mon 18-May-09 17:29:30


notcitrus Mon 18-May-09 17:40:29

The most likely issue is 'glue ear', aka gunk buildup in the middle ear which isn't draining properly. Some kids grow out of it after getting it age 3ish, others need grommets (small rigid tubes) inserted so it can drain out and let the eardrum vibrate and all. While inserting grommets is a general anesthetic, it's very light as the op lasts about 30 secs!

I imagine the 20 is 20 decibels (dB) - about the volume of a whisper.

If she needs hearing aids especially to cope in environments when there's lots of background noise, they come in fab colours nowadays including pink and glittery...

The fact that she's speaking well and learnt lots of words is really positive.

[hearing aid wearer, only got the colour I wanted in my 30s...]

HuffwardlyRudge Mon 18-May-09 17:59:55

Thank you for that Citrus. I shall go and google glue ear.

I didn't know you could get funky hearing aids. If she knew there was a possibility of a pink, sparkly one she'd probably fake the tests to get one!

davidla Mon 18-May-09 22:20:16

Our son had grommets - not really a big deal to be honest. Anyway, last test his hearing was perfectly normal.
So although you might be worried, it may not be as big a deal as you might think.
Well, it wasn't for us and I hope not for you.

norksinmywaistband Mon 18-May-09 22:29:45

DS had a significant hearing loss, all down to Glue ear,
He had his adenoids removed( the cause of his glue ear) and grommets inserted. He has now started to spek and is catching up fantastically, and tantrums through frustration have begun to disappear.
At last testing his hearing was in normal range
He had the op at 2.10 and is now 3ys 2 months BTW

Reallytired Tue 19-May-09 13:20:22

My had/has [not sure emoticon] glue.

He had grommets, which he didn't get on with and then hearing aids for 18 months. My son first had tweenies ear moulds and then Doctor Who. Kids hearing aids are brilliant. My son had blue transparent hearing aids, but you can get pink ones with glitter. Its still a major challenge to persaude a child to wear hearing aids.

If its any consolation. Glue ear is really common with pre schoolers and in most cases it clears itself without any intervention. A 20 dB hearing loss is boarderline. My son's (who does not have hearing aids at the momnet) has a 20 dB hearing loss caused by scarring on the ear drums. It doesn't stop him enjoying life or doing well at school.

HuffwardlyRudge Wed 20-May-09 07:05:08

Thanks all. Have made an appointment to see the ENT specialist. Apparently he or she will be able to tell me if the hearing loss is solely down to the congestion, and what we can do about it.

Good to hear from people saying it's not a massive deal.

Although I told my parents who said (and I quote) "it all sounds like bollocks to me. They pick up things with their modern equipment that isn't even real." hmm I think they were trying to be reassuring but it wasn't massively helpful! Especially when I have had it investigated in the first place because I had noticed that she doesn't hear well.

notcitrus Thu 21-May-09 12:57:55

just to mention that often people can hear sounds of certain pitches but not others, and that picking out relevant noise is sometimes easy and sometimes impossible, depending on levels of background noise etc.

there is nothing more frustrating than people assuming that just because you can cope in some situations or understand certain people fine, the rest of the time you're faking it or "you can hear when you want to" - family members may need this pointed out to them...

but a 20dB loss is just the low end of normal, so just doing regular hearing tests may be all that's needed.

Reallytired Thu 21-May-09 13:15:01

There is a banana of speech sounds that are typically spoken at a certain volume and certain frequency. The main thing is that someone can hear all the frequencies of speech. (speech banana

Someone with a 20 dB hearing loss would struggle to hear leaves rustling or whisphering, but cope in most situations. However a lot is down to auditory perception, ie. how good the brain is at processing sound.

I think that watchful waiting is best approach as glue ear often clears up on its own. Grommets have risks and many children are not keen on hearing aids. Obviously if the hearing gets worst or her development suffers then action is needed.

Tallis Thu 21-May-09 13:25:00

I think you've done well to get her looked at so young. My nephew was clearly very bright but was slow to speak and, when concentrating, would make a loud humming noise to himself. My sister took him off aged about 4 to see a specialist: yes, it was glue ear. He was making the noise because he couldn't hear much else, but he could hear the humming because it was inside his head, and that was reassuring (iyswim).

Anyway the specialist said many parents stuck their heads in the sand meaning that the child's problems (both with hearing, and at school) just got worse and worse. Silly, really, when the problem is often so easily rectified.

happy ending: grommets inserted, and left in for I think two years. he was given extra help at school for speech therapy; the grommets came out naturally by themselves and now three years later he's top of his year at school and doing brilliantly. grin

HuffwardlyRudge Thu 21-May-09 19:07:58

Well we saw the ENT chap today. (This is all happening quite quickly by the way because we are not in the UK so no NHS waiting lists).

He took a lorry load of wax out of her ears.

He confirmed that she had a lot of fluid behind the eardrum.

He did a test that produced a graph that should have had a peak if her ears were 100%, but instead produced an almost flat line. I didn't fully understand this bit.

He x-rayed her head and confirmed that her adenoids were very big.

He has given us some drops to use for 2 weeks to try and shrink her adenoids.

In 2 weeks time if there is no improvement, or not enough improvement, he recommends grommets and taking out her adenoids.

I am now going to google the risks of both of those procedures. Reallytired you mentioned risks..?

The thing is, I don't think her development is affected. It's a difficult thing to measure. I would like her to be able to hear better as she definitely has problems hearing quiet noises, and when people speak to her but are turned away, and when there is background noise (eg in her classroom). But on the other hand I don't want her to have unnecessary surgery if she's getting on just fine with reduced hearing, and if it will fix itself in time anyway.

Monster post, sorry. Am buzzing with angst and questions. I really do appreciate people sharing their thoughts and experiences.

Sparkletastic Thu 21-May-09 19:20:34

We have recently established that my DD is hearing impaired in both ears and has some residual fluid trapped behind her ear-drums likely going back 3 years to her very rapid birth (gross!). Her impairment is fairly mild but has had a significant impact on her speech development - she can't form very clear sounds and is hard to understand particularly when trying to speak in sentences rather than just say single words. Grommets are not likely to be the answer as she isn't gunky now - she will probably need to have her ear-drums burst under a general then have the old gunk syringed out. I've agreed with her consultant to delay hearing aids for another 6 months to see if, with intensive one to one support, she can learn to speak clearly without them. His view - and I totally agree - is if she can manage without then she won't have to put up with reliance on them and having everything amplified. The gunk is a separate issue and unlikely to have much impact - the impairment will be much the same after the procedure apparently. I think the watchful waiting approach is deffo a good one if your DD is developing within the normal range and not suffering socially. Grommits certainly help in some situations but DD's specialist said many issues clear up as ears grow therefore if no recurrent infections then maybe wait and see for a while.

Reallytired Thu 21-May-09 20:25:34

For most children grommets are a simple and sucessful operation. However there are risks which happen to a tiny percentage of children. Most children benefit considerably from grommets.

The biggest risk with grommets is scarring of the ear drum. Especially if the grommets get infected. In a tiny number of cases the scarring can cause a permament hearing loss.

If you go down the grommet route then I suggest you get ear plugs made so that it is possible to wash your daughter's hair without risk of water getting in the ears. A paediatric audiologist would be able to make the ear plugs for you. Most ENT consultants tell you not to take your child swimming until the grommets have fallen out and ear drum healed. (Many small children find not being allowed to go swimming for months on end devestating.)

My son had grommets which fell out after 8 weeks and then it took 9 months for the perforations to heal. He also had constant infections and has suffered scarring of his ear drums. My son also had his adenoids removed and really benefited from this.

When my son's glue ear returned he had temporary hearing aids for 18 months. It is quite a challenge to get a small child to wear hearing aids. Certainly we had no difficulty in weaning him off them whatsoever.

IcantbelieveImForty Fri 22-May-09 14:34:35

My DD2 has had congestion in both her ears & this was only picked up due to her delay in developement of speech. it was suggested we cut out dairy for 3 mths - until the next test. I did this & at the next test, one ear is clear & she 'passed' all the sounds. She was 2.5. I've kept her off dairy for another 8 weeks & I am pretty sure her congestion has almost gone. She is having her 3rd test next week.

If this is of interest, she had rice milk in her cereal & occasionally had sheeps cheese. She has never drunk milk as a drink, so had no need to find a replacement.

IcantbelieveImForty Fri 22-May-09 14:35:44

BTW the audiologist said the ENT people poopoo the dairy, but they do see very good results - very worth it to avoid surgery, imo.

Runoutofideas Sat 06-Jun-09 11:56:39

Hi HR,
How is your daughter now? Have you had the grommets in and adenoids out? I only ask as I was told yesterday that my dd1 (4) needs the same thing and the circumstances sound very similar to yours. She has moderate hearing loss, and always sounds congested, but her language and vocabulary are really good. We need to decide whether to book her in for surgery, so would be very grateful to hear how you are getting on.... Thanks

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