Question about hearing loss and speech delays - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-08-2009, 11:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son is 20 months and his speech is super delayed...6-9 months expressively. I was just reading in this book that the SLP gave me that has some info about hearing loss and ear wax buildup. He has an apt with audiology in a few weeks, but I am just wondering if it is possible that he has some hearing loss that we don't know about. He has wax pouring out of his ears practically every day. (Sorry, TMI but it is true).

Has anyone not realized that their child had a hearing loss for whatever reason until someone convinced them to see an audiologist? I am 99.99% sure that he hears just fine but then my old EI supervisor also mentioned this to me as a possibility. I am grasping for an "easy" solution of course. It seems like he wakes up when a pin drops so I doubt it is his hearing. Just curious if anyone didn't realize their child had some hearing loss, or if anyone has had experience with ear wax being an issue. Thanks!
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:32 AM
 
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finally a thread I feel knowledgable about We are\were in the same boat with our DS. We never knew he had hearing loss\ ear infections until he wasn't talking much at almost two. We alwaya has woken frequently, never had a fever, but probably always had fluid behind his ear drum. His fluid was so bad he fell in the moderate\mild hearing loss. I kinda didn't believe it at first bc of the same stuff you mentioned, but the audiologist said he can hear sounds, it just sounds like it would if you are underwater. A jumble jargon, not clear sounds. He got tubes and now he is in speech and has come a long way since april. Our insurance covers speech too bc it was caused by a medical condition. Good luck.

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Old 12-09-2009, 01:42 AM
 
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My son has always had numerous ear infections, 4 sets of tubes, and a long round of gentamycin (which is ototoxic). He has hearing aids now and has mod to severe loss. But without his aids he can hear sounds. There are so many different frequencies and you don't lose them all. Plus NEVER underestimate how well children can learn to accomodate. He kept passing hearing tests and I would tell them it is because he has lived with this so long he has adjusted. He can read lips and still does. Finally they agreed to put him to sleep and do a brain stem test, which of course showed major hearing loss.

If you don't already, you ABSOLUTELY need a pediatric ENT on your team. In fact, usually the ENT comes first and they send you to an audiologist. He is the one that will rule out reasons for speech delays, such as fluid, wax, ect. And fix those problems. The audiologist can't fix the wax problem or infection problems. In fact we went recently for a hearing aid check and they wouldn't see him again until the ENT cleaned out the wax.

Good luck! Hope that helped a little.
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Old 12-09-2009, 02:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you both so much. NCMama...do you know if the audiologist will be able to see if the wax/fluid are a problem even if they can't fix it or does an ENT have to diagnose that as the problem? Nobody even mentioned an ENT to me, so I really appreciate it. I don't know that hearing loss is his issue, but we will see and I at least want to make sure it is considered. What were the things that tipped you off in the first place to have them put him to sleep and do a more thorough study? Was his speech delayed at all?
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Old 12-09-2009, 10:07 AM
 
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Do a quick google search of an audiogram and a speech banana. Here's one link for a speech banana. http://speechbananas.com/speech_banana.html Sounds occur at different decibels and frequencies, and a person can havee loss at any combination. My son, for example, only has loss at 250, 500, and 1000, and it's in the mild range (25-35 dB) so he is only missing specific sounds. That could explain why your son seems to wake easily even with hearing loss. Perhaps his loss is at different frequencies. (if he has loss) If it's an issue of fluid or wax, he likely hears the sounds, but can't understand them, hence the speech delay.

I have to run, but I wanted to throw some terms your way so you could research more. I'd request an ENT consult, even if he "passes" his hearing test. Fluid and wax can come and go, so you want an ENT to follow him over a few months to catch any problems.

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Old 12-09-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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finally a thread I feel knowledgable about We are\were in the same boat with our DS. We never knew he had hearing loss\ ear infections until he wasn't talking much at almost two. We alwaya has woken frequently, never had a fever, but probably always had fluid behind his ear drum. His fluid was so bad he fell in the moderate\mild hearing loss. I kinda didn't believe it at first bc of the same stuff you mentioned, but the audiologist said he can hear sounds, it just sounds like it would if you are underwater. A jumble jargon, not clear sounds. He got tubes and now he is in speech and has come a long way since april. Our insurance covers speech too bc it was caused by a medical condition. Good luck.
This is exactly what happened with one of my twin boys as well. Ryker was very delayed at two, maybe saying one or two words. He also wasn't walking, which we thought maybe had to do with the fluid behind his ears.

He never had a fever or showed signs of an EI. Someone from Early Intervention mentioned checking for fluid behind his ears because of his speech delay. Fortunately, my FIL is a pediatric ENT, so he got us an appt with one of his friends and colleagues closer to us.

He first sent us to an audiologist who determined that there is fluid behind his ears, and that he had mild hearing loss. So, we got tubes for him. It did make a huge difference. At 3, he still has a speech delay (due to developmental delay) but it really did make a huge difference.
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:26 PM
 
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My DD has hearing loss (actually deaf) in only one ear. Thanks to the newborn hearing screen at the hospital, it was caught at birth but we told if it was not for that, we probably would not of known until she started school. She does have a speech issues. I am convinced that there are certain sounds which she just does not hear right or at all.
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:18 PM
 
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The audiologist will put plugs in the ears that will tell them if the eardrums are moving like they should be. If they are not, it is because of fluid, wax, ect and they will not be able to do an actual hearing test. Then they send you back to the ENT to have that fixed. Once there is no fluid and the ear drums vibrate well, then they can test hearing.
My son's speech is delayed, but he is globally delayed as well. At this point, he has heard certain sounds so wrong for so long that it is harder to teach his brain the correct way to interpret them. That is why they work so hard at keeping those ears healthy early in life. I knew because he watched your lips and if he couldn't see you then he would repeat things wrong. I also saw that the radio and TV were WAY too loud and you always had to repeat what you said to him. It was fairly annoying! Don't get me wrong, hearing aids are a pretty big pain in the butt too!
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:27 PM
 
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People miss their kids hearing loss ALL THE TIME! Especially if it is small to moderate loss.

My oldest has progressive hearing loss and it took a while to figure it out and get him tested properly (his 1st ped. just talked to him and said he was fine, sigh). It can be really hard to detect without a real test.

i would absolutely get him hearing tested. It is super easy, non-invasive, and will tell you SOOO much. Also, kids can have their hearing impeded by wax or fluid. It doesn't matter why, it just matters that they can't hear. So finding that out will be beneficial, too.

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Old 12-09-2009, 04:37 PM
 
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Unfortunately this is up our "alley" as well. It took 2 yrs to get DS accuarately dx with his hearing issues. We (DH and I) felt almsot from day 1 that there was something off but it took a long time to get everyone else on board and dx'ed. In our case he too "passed" numerous testing it wasnt until they did the sedated brain wave testing that it showed his problems.

Having a hearing test is a great first line. I would also ask that your DC be seen by a pediatric ENT that can look for any physical reasons that may be causing something. They can also look to see if anything else can in the ENT region might be causing some problems. Wax buildup can cause hearing issues acting like a wax plug in the ears. Fluid as well can cause "issues" But both can be a come and go as well. Which should be monitored for a while to rule out the possiblity completely. For instance Ds had fluid off and on for several months caused by his other hearing problem. He "passed" the typanogram but 1 week later failed horribly.

Also hearing isnt a all or none issue. I relate it to a keyboard on a piano, there are different frequencies (notes) and some may or may not play (hear) so although you could possibly hear a song you might not get all of it. That was the case for our son. There is also the clarity of it just because it can be heard dosent mean its hearing correctly.

I defintaely think its a good place to start to rule anything out that may be causing his speech problems.
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Old 12-10-2009, 02:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone for all the great information! I am wondering...did your pediatricians notice if wax/fluid was the issue (if you regularly did the well child exams or took them in when they were sick)? What made you get your child's hearing tested?
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:41 AM
 
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My youngest dd (3.5yo) was born bilaterally and profoundly deaf for unknown reasons. She was dx at 2mos, aided at 3mos, and had bilateral cochlear implants at 12mos and 18mos.

Did your ds have a Universal Newborn Hearing Screening? Just curious what the outcome of that was.
The only ear wax issues we've had were caused by ear molds on hearing aids.
As for waking to sound, this is exactly how many children go un-dx. I know you don't want another issue and that a hearing loss, or any further dx for that matter, can really hit you hard but it's certainly in your ds best interest to have this sorted out. It could be nothing or it could be a mild/moderate hearing loss, or something else altogether.
At any rate, and GL.
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:08 PM
 
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Just another to chime in - not my kid, but I have hearing loss (moderate-to-severe in both ears). As others mentioned, the range of loss can vary, so your child may be very responsive to some pitches but not hear others.

I don't hear high pitched sounds well (or at all, depending on the pitch). I hear men better than women as a result. Even though I have a pretty fair loss, I can hear thunder or a truck rumbling almost before anyone else can.

My loss wasn't diagnosed until age 2. I was fitted with hearing aids and brought to speech therapy then. Everyone is different, but my speech is very good (as everyone has told me).

I don't know anything about what could be causing all that wax. (My hearing aids cause a bit extra but obviously that's not related to what's going on with your son). I hope you guys figure it out quickly, and that it's something that can be adjusted to.

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Old 12-11-2009, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks again everyone! Yes, he passed his newborn exam. We're now scheduled to see both an ENT and audiologist next week. We were going to have to wait for another few weeks for audiology, but I changed providers. So, we'll see what happens...
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Old 12-11-2009, 07:02 PM
 
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finally a thread I feel knowledgable about We are\were in the same boat with our DS. We never knew he had hearing loss\ ear infections until he wasn't talking much at almost two. We alwaya has woken frequently, never had a fever, but probably always had fluid behind his ear drum. His fluid was so bad he fell in the moderate\mild hearing loss. I kinda didn't believe it at first bc of the same stuff you mentioned, but the audiologist said he can hear sounds, it just sounds like it would if you are underwater. A jumble jargon, not clear sounds. He got tubes and now he is in speech and has come a long way since april. Our insurance covers speech too bc it was caused by a medical condition. Good luck.
I could have written this word for word. I had #2 in Nov last year, and by Christmas I became concerned DH thought it was due to #2, but in Jan I called Early Intervention. He had a hearing test, and failed. I was so surprised. We went to the ped who sent us to the ENT. Long story short, DS now has tubes and is a different child. He still has a speech delay, but he has some other issues as well that affect the delay, but not the comprehension.
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Old 12-11-2009, 07:58 PM
 
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I also wanted to point out that if it is an issue with fluid or wax, tubes are not *necessarily* the only answer. Most parents do the tubes because they're easy to put in (do require anesthesia, but you're home in an hour or two after), almost no side effects, and it "fixes" the problem pretty much immediately.

BUT, there are other options. Chiropractic and craniosacral massage can be very effective in cases of fluid.

Often allergies are the culprit, so you can either do an elimination diet to identify food allergies, or you can get tested (although allergy tests may not show some of the more minor allergic reactions).

Some kids respond really well to some antihistamines to control environmental allergies, and that lessens the fluid build up.

It all depends on how much effect the fluid/wax is having on the child. In my middle son's case, he had RAMPANT infections, really really severe, and his internal anatomy was not normal (malformed ear canals, malformed ear drums, a cleft palate, etc) so there just wasn't time to do any alternative treatments, nor would they have been as effective.

My older son, though, had numerous ear infections and we were able to ward off tubes by moving (we were military, we knew we'd be moving in the next 6 months, so we decided to hold off on tubes and see what happened at our next duty station. He's never had an ear infection since, so obviously it was something environmental there).

So just keep that in mind when you see the ENT and audiologist. Ask about options if you want to explore them.

Mommy to BigBoy Ian (3-17-05) ; LittleBoy Connor (3-3-07) (DiGeorge/VCFS):; BabyBoy Gavin (10-3-09) x3 AngelBaby (1-7-06)
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Old 12-22-2009, 05:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, it turns out he can hear just fine. I am scheduled to see an ENT with him, but now am wondering if there is any point. Any suggestions?
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Old 12-23-2009, 03:21 PM
 
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fluid can come and go, and depending on how much fluid is present at the time of testing can influence a hearing test. I would go to the ENT still just to be certain it is not hearing\ ear related.

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Old 12-23-2009, 04:14 PM
 
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Well, it turns out he can hear just fine. I am scheduled to see an ENT with him, but now am wondering if there is any point. Any suggestions?
I would still see the ENT. There are a lot of factors that can influence the presence of fluid in the ears it won't hurt to verify with the ENT.

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