Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hearing Problems

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.


Crayola58 said...

Oh my goodness, Anna Dawn, there are times when we all love "lurkers"...and I am so happy that you like my blog. Thank you for the Award. It is always pleasing to receive one and I shall pass it on as well. I have read your encounters with your daughter's hearing. My son had constant ear infections from the time he was 6 mos. old and when he was 3 they finally put tubes in his ears and he never had another. He did have a little hearing loss, however. My heart just ached when I read about how much she went thru wth the cleanings. I am so glad hearing has improved. What a blessing.
thank you again, Anna Dawn...
And OH, I almost forgot. Your cards and projects are awesome.

Rosemary said...

Your daughter has been through more in a short time than most people in their entire lives, and you as well. I think it is amazing that we can share here on the blogosphere and send good thoughts and prayers to our fellow bloggers. You just describe this so easily, when I know it must be very stressful. I admire deeply your can-do attitude.

I hope some form of a hearing aid could help. My husband had a benign brain tumor about 13 years ago (when WE were young) and lost hearing in his one ear - he has diminished hearing remaining and so a hearing aid has helped him greatly. Your daughter has age on her side, children are not only resilient physically but are still open to such learning as combining aids with other forms of auditory therapy.

I wish you more successes with her treatments.

Beth Hillier said...

What a sweetie! I'm glad to hear she is such a happy girl. Best wishes to her!!!!!


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