Hear here

4 Dec

A couple of months ago, Jade had a routine hearing screening at her preschool.  She’d had her ears tested as a newborn, and other than a number of ear infections, we’ve never been much concerned about her ears.  Which is why Michael and I were both surprised to find out one of her ears failed the test.

The hearing clinic aide suggested we book a follow-up test a month later.  Why a month?  Just in case Jade had some kind of cold (she did), the time would allow her to clear up.

The week before her follow-up test, Jade came down with another cold.  She hasn’t been in a daycare or school setting since she was 2 and a half and it seems her immune system has to regain its hard-earned resilience.  I phoned the Hearing Services Offices on the Friday before her Monday appointment and asked whether I should still bring Jade in.  The secretary suggested we “play it by ear”.  And I really don’t think she meant it as a pun.

We did end up going for the test on Monday.  The same ear failed.

(Cute aside: Halia wanted to get the “marshmallows” in her ears, too, and the aide played along, especially since Halia had never been screened, not being born in a hospital.)(Relieved aside: her ears passed.)

With two failed tests, it was time to book an appointment with an audiologist.  We saw her in the middle of November.

What I learned at that appointment was that Jade’s hearing was “fine”: that is, in the normal range.  Her eardrums were moving, there was no infection, there was no accumulation of ear wax.  However, there was some fluid in her middle ear.  In case you don’t know it, your middle ear should really only be full of air.  Since Jade wasn’t complaining of pain or discomfort, and given the two failed tests, the audiologist hypothesized that this may be a persistent situation for her.

Chronically having fluid in the middle ear can mean a predisposition for ear infections and it may mean that Jade’s hearing level fluctuates significantly with her health.  It might explain why Jade’s pronunciation of words is sometimes “slushy” (because the sounds she hears are distorted).  Also why she often talks so quietly (you plug your ears and talk and see what happens).  Finally, it may explain, at least partially, one of her most serious developmental delays: her poor balance.  Anything that requires balancing on one leg (putting on shoes, kicking a ball, walking on a balance beam, even skipping) is very difficult for her.

We saw the audiologist for another follow-up today; the tests gave exactly the same result.  Jade’s still hearing in the normal range, but there’s fluid in the middle ear.  It was the audiologist’s last day at the office until the end of January, so we’re booked to see her again then.  But in the meantime, I’m going to see if we can get a referral to either a pediatrician or an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist.

While it wasn’t really fun to find out Jade might have a chronic hearing problem, I’m also excited.  What if we manage to clear up her middle ear and her balance improves?  That would be huge!

I know it’s no use berating myself, but I wish we could have caught this sooner.  Jade’s first ear infection happened the day she turned one.  It makes me wonder, aas her hearing been compromised ever since then?  It makes me wonder, did middle ear fluid contribute to the mild speech delay she had ever before her seizures started?  It makes me wonder, how many other kids with speech delays should automatically have their ears tested?

Anyway, whatever the answer to these largely unanswerable questions: hurrah for “routine” hearing tests at school!

9 Responses to “Hear here”

  1. Meandering Michael December 4, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    It also makes me wonder about the time that she was pointing to her ear shortly before her seizures started. Could they be linked somehow?!?

  2. kara December 5, 2010 at 6:46 am #

    While this isn’t good news, I sure do find it interesting!

    So is there a way to get rid of that fluid in the middle ear?

  3. Marianne Fritzen December 6, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    ach, arme Fawny! Du hast auch immer etwas anderes, was Dich belastet. Und ich leide mit und möchte helfen. Ich muss mal Mike fragen: Julian und Stephanie haben beide in ihren Kleinkindjahren Ohrenprobleme gehabt und sind operiert worden. Ich weiss aber nicht mehr , was es war. Ich glaube, dauernd Ohrenentzündungen.

    Lass Dich umarmen

    Omi

  4. Barbara December 6, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    I think the visit with an ENT is a very good idea.

    I’m also not sure I would expect resolving the fluid problem to resolve the balance problem. At least immediately. Even if the two are related problems she will still have ‘learn’ balance through practice. (Even I put on my shoes from sitting.) ;)

  5. Scientific Chick December 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    I second Barbara’s endorsement of the idea to see an ENT. More info is always good!

    Overall, it sounds like a lot of good news? Like this ear problem could explain a lot of things? I may be wrong, but I think fluid in the middle ear can be solved. My nephew had this problem (it lead to repeat infections) and it got cleared up completely.

    Good luck, and keep us posted!
    -J

  6. Jenny December 8, 2010 at 6:57 am #

    I’ll have to FWD you the information about auditory processing disorder a local professor gave me. It’s very interesting. A child with fluid in the middle ear only hears 30-50% of what is being said (or something like that) it can cause other problems later when things in school become more “auditory”. Which makes sense to me, it’s like Isaiah’s auditory memory. I think of someone who’s blind or just has bad eye sight and how their other senses are heighted by that to accomodate.

  7. Laural Out Loud December 9, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    I know what you mean about being happy for a diagnosis! Knowing what you’re dealing with and how to correct it, that there’s hope, can be such a relief. It sounds like this diagnosis can bring about some great things for Jade!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Fawnahareo’s Place - December 31, 2010

    [...] December: A couple of months ago, Jade had a routine hearing screening at her preschool. [...]

  2. Fawnahareo’s Place - March 7, 2011

    [...] been anxious to get Jade to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist since early December.  The pediatricians from BC Children’s Hospital who saw Jade last month [...]

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