We have recently have had a lot of hearing issues arise. EmmaLee gets quite a bit of "buildup" in her ear canals that we can't clean completely out and it has affected her hearing. Which in turn affects her speech development. She hasn't had a "normal" result from a hearing test since her birth. We were going in to see the ENT about every 4 months to have him clean off her ear drums, but it still didn't seem to be enough. We have since started going in about every other month to have her ears checked/cleaned. We have been in twice when the Doctor said that they were pretty clean, and he didn't need to do anything. But the times he does, are dreadful!!
He uses a long tubelike vacuum to suction off the debri clinging to her ear drum. The noise is quite loud, and she just screams like crazy. Mostly she's just scared of the noise, but it takes me and two nurses holding her body down so the Dr. can do it. She flails her arms and legs and jerks her head away from him so much that I have suggested using sedation for the times they need cleaned out. I can't imagine that he gets very close to the ear drum if he is constantly worried about her twitching her head and so not getting too close that it could injure her. We havn't had to sedate her yet, but we'll see about the next appt.
So in December we had him put tubes in her ears to help with the draining, and she also had her adnoids taken out. Apparently they help produce a lot of unneeded mucus. It seemed like she always had a runny nose, so it helped with that alot too. Well, the tubes have already fallen out within 2 months and they didn't help with the hearing much. One thing that the Doctor said was that when he was in there placing her tubes, he has never seen anyone with eardrums as thick as hers. The actual Tympanic Membrane is thicker than usual, which he thinks also might be causing her hearing problems. Which makes sense that her ear drums might be thickened since her skin is so rapidly turning over and producing new layers.
Originally we assumed the hearing loss was caused by the debri "buildup" in her ear canals and on the surface of the eardrum itself. The "buildup" mostly consists of dead skin cells, but then with her bathing process everything in her ear canals gets wet and waterlogged turning it into a kind of "goop". I clean her ears out thoroughly every day with a looped ear curette, but I won't ever go in deep enough that I might injure her ear drum. We love the ear curette, it works so well with getting out the debris and skin that gunks up in her ear. We use the white looped one that is second to the bottom in the picture.
At one point we were using a lighted ear curette that was amazing and prevented me from getting too close to the eardrum, but it was a sample and when the light burnt out we couldn't get insurance to buy a replacement for it. It worked like a flashlight, but used an led light that shone up the base of the ear curette and lighted up just the tip that was inserted into her ear. Oooh, I found some pictures to explain it better. I really wish we could afford to buy her a new one of these, it was great.
Well now that the hearing loss might be due to the thickness of the TM, we have started to discuss hearing aid options with the Doctor. But about a month ago we had another hearing screen right after a cleaning at the ENT and it really made a difference. For the first time we received a "normal" test result meaning she can hear at normal ranges. I have been so happy thinking that things are going to get easier for us, we wont need to look at hearing aids, and she will start to talk better and understand us better.
Well yesterday we went to the ear Dr. and he was very pessimistic about the "normal" audio results. He basically said that he thinks they did it wrong. If she's never had a normal reading before, why does she all of a sudden hear perfectly? I was at that Audiology appt. myself. I watched them do the tests, and I don't think they did anything "wrong". I can tell that her hearing has improved alot since we bumped up the cleanings at the Dr.'s. The Doctor, however, wants a "second opinion" and we will have to get her re-tested. So much for getting my hopes up.