Hearing loss is not on most of our minds when we raise our children, they are perfect little people are they not? My daughter had her tonsils and adenoids removed and tubes put in this week. She is 5 and in hindsight the signs were there that she had to get the surgery a long time ago, but I had no idea what to look for. I am writing this post so that other parents have a reference of what to look for and some tips on how to make diagnosing hearing loss easier.
First of all, some back ground on my little girl. She was born 2 months premature, so she has always been smaller compared to our other children. She is an average size for her age though. She has always been a mouth breather, snoring like crazy from day 1, she would even stop breathing in her sleep because she was snoring so hard. No matter how long she slept (8 PM-noon) she was always exhausted. I always praised this wonderful child of mine that would sleep in and not wake me up, oblivious to the fact that she was not getting any rest at all. Also, she suffered from throat infections all of the time, and being in daycare and school she was sick for months at a time. She was also the silent sick child who wouldn’t tell us she was in pain until she was burning up in fever and we were in a panic. Ear infections were also a common problem and I remember one particular time we took her to a new daycare facility and when we picked her up in the evening she was tired. She slept in the car ride home and when I went to take her out of the car seat, I noticed blood and pus pouring out of her ear. Don’t think I am negligent for not noticing my child was sick, daycare didn’t mention anything, and as I said before she was tired all of the time and naps were normal. After rushing her to the ER (I thought daycare gave her brain trauma, thank God there was no room to leave messages), the ER doctor told us that her ear drum had burst to relieve the pressure that was building behind it, this should have been the point we saw a specialist but we just took the medication and went on with our lives.
I think the reason that the issue went on for as long as it did was that we did not have a family doctor for about 2 years. We relied heavily on walk-in clinics and the ER. I was in college for 2 years and than went to work full time. After my first year of school we moved to a different part of the city so driving for an hour to see a doctor was just not a feasible option. Also, her office was not open late and late was when I finally got my kids home from daycare. Having a family doctor is very important with children, they can help track your child’s health and they may notice things you have missed, such as the dozens of ear and throat infections that she has endured. In Ontario, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has set up a database of all doctors. You can input all of your requirements, address, even where they have hospital privileges and it will give you a list of physicians that are taking new patients. There are wait lists for most physicians but get on the list, six months is not a long time when you have children.
Once, we finally got a referral to the Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor, it took about 1 minute for him to tell us her diagnosis. Her nose was severely inflamed, that was not allowing her to breath through it (explains the mouth breathing and snoring), her tonsils and adenoids were humongous, and there was water behind her ear drum. When we did the hearing test I could see through the glass that she was not responding to some of the noises that the doctor was putting on in her headphones, *sigh*. Surgery was scheduled for the fall, but I asked to be put on the wait list for any openings because I wanted her better before she went back to school. Three weeks later we got the call, and surgery was done this week. When we got home from the hospital and she went to bed, I cried. I cried because I saw the way she was looking at all of us all day, and when I asked her what was going on, she said ” you all sound so different, not fuzzy anymore.” I held it together in front of her but my heart tore into a million pieces at that moment. I hope you take a look at some of the possible signs to look for.
Signs of Possible Hearing Loss:
- Listening to TV/Music/Computer at a Loud Volume-Our Emma was a little bit crazy with this. When she finally figured out how to put the volume on the TV up she was watching it at 65. Out of 100 this is crazy loud, I could hear everything clearly while taking a shower upstairs. She watches music videos on YouTube and I thought she just enjoyed her music loud (she is MY daughter), but there is only so much you can take of Aladdin and Jasmine singing “A Whole New World” before you start wishing you were in a whole new world.
- Saying “what, huh, and pardon me”(last one only if your children are polite) a lot- Looking back, “huh” should have been Emma’s motto. She never seemed to hear me the first time I said anything. She would just look at me with a quizzical look on her face.
- They just don’t hear you-If I called my daughter and she was in another room, she would often not answer me. Asking her to do her homework, chores, or get ready for bed, would be so nerve racking. It seems that unless she saw me talking to her she did not even hear me. I asked her hundreds of times when I would finally get her attention “Are you deaf?” I know now that she kind of was, this was not selective hearing that all kids have, this was much more.
- They speak very loudly-Kids are loud, I have 3 of them and all 3 have reached decibels that I didn’t even know existed before they were born, but she was loud all of the time. In everything that she did she was loud, even when she thought she was whispering she was actually talking loudly.
- They can’s seem to focus-so our daughter would zone out, she would just completely go into another world. I though she was just a dreamer, plotting her revenge on her older brother for pulling the head off of her favourite Barbie, but focus is important in kids. After we were diagnosed I told her teachers at school. It was like a light bulb went on in their heads, the “A-HA” moment. They never mentioned anything to me about her being distracted, but it seems when they were sitting in circle time she would just gaze up at the ceiling.
- Delayed speech/saying words incorrectly-Emma started to speak at a normal time, met all of her milestones on time, but she did have a slight lisp, and some words she just completely said incorrectly. Pretzels were “prescuttles”, she couldn’t say her “S’s” all the time, and she just sang songs completely wrong, with words that didn’t exist.
- Constant ear infections, bronchitis and mouth breathing/snoring-see above
This is just some of the signs I noticed in my child. Now we are on the road to recovery and that is all that matters. As a parent, you know when something is wrong with your child. If you can’t pinpoint it, talk to your health care provider. Let them make a prognosis and they can steer you in the way of specialists that deal in pediatric health issues. Pass this list on, if you see kids who may meet some of the criteria, maybe gently mention it to their parents (gently!) to check their hearing, I wish some one had mentioned it to me.
Do you have any other signs to look out for when it comes to hearing loss or other childhood illnesses. I am sure that other readers would love to have their eyed opened to some more info. Thanks for bearing with me in this long post 🙂