Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tap Tap. Can You Hear Me?

Monday I took AK for a hearing test. She has had monthly ear infections for the past year and the pediatrician does not want to recommend tubes unless it is impacting her speech or hearing. I can respect that. It is not like I want my baby to get anaesthesia or undergo surgery, but on the other hand, monthly antibiotic treatments are not really desirable either.

The good news is that most of the time when AK has an ear infection, it is hard to tell. She rarely gets fevers, and it rarely interrupts her sleep or affects her eating habits. Basically I just end up taking her to the doctor when she has a cold for more than a few days because that usually means the gunk has had enough time to back up into her ears.

According to the audiologist, AK's hearing seems to be fine. There were no major gaps and she responded to vowels, constants and different tones in a satisfactory manner, despite the fact that she had some fluid in her ears.

The result was not a surprise. Like most toddlers (or children of any age - including husbands) I know that AK has selective hearing. She ignores most things she doesn't agree with. She also has this incredibly awful shriek. Really really killer. Unfortunately this has nothing to do with her hearing and everything to do with her wanting attention. However, she also has quite a few words: light. up. cat. dog. Mommy. Daddy. DiDi [her big sis]. duck. teeth. BuhBee [the paci]. Tubbies. candy...(her sister taught her that last one).

Following the audiologist I took AK over to the pediatrician to discuss the results and double check her ears. I ended up learning a few things. Maybe I also have selective hearing, because I don't think it was the first time she said, but it was definitely the first time I heard, that only 50% of ear infections are bacterial. Meaning that antibiotics are not always necessary to treat ear infections. And maybe it isn't so bad to let them run their course.

I AM NOT GIVING MEDICAL ADVICE HERE. However, she did say that if AK isn't running a fever or extra cranky or waking up frequently, we don't necessarily need to put her on antibiotics for every ear infection. This ties in to my experiential approach to parenting. If I suspect an ear infection and AK doesn't have any symptoms, I can bring her to the doctor to check it out, but what they might do is tell us to come back in a few days to see if it is improving on its own BEFORE giving her antibiotics.

I am going to try this and see how it works. I am also taking AK in for her second hearing test in about six weeks so the audiologist can continue to monitor her hearing.

Many of my friends rave about tubes and the positive impact they have had on their children and chronic ear infections and behavior. I am a believer. And, if it is determined to be the right course of action I am all for it. BUT if AK can outgrow the ear infections without surgery, I would be a happy camper.


Mindy said...

I hated to put Julie through the procedure too, but just like you we had ear infections all the time...looking back at it now, I am so GLAD that we did it. It was such a difference for her and no more pain.she also didnt always get a fever or cranky.

Billie said...

Apparently I had the same problem as a child. I had ear tubes. I don't remember if they improved things or not at that time (way too long ago). I do know that I have quite a bit of scarring in my one ear due to the tubes (according to the audiologist).

I have some problems with my hearing but when tested - I come out in the normal range. ARGH!!

Joyful Juggler said...

My oldest had tubes put in at 17 months, and she needed them because her ear infections were brutal: spiking fevers of over 103, pain, crankiness, the whole works. They worked wonders for years. But 2.5 years ago, when she was 3.5, one of the tubes migrated, caused some sort of build up, which then burst and made her ear bleed profusely. No damage was caused or anything, but it was scary. And NOW, she's 6 y.o., and the other ear has some sort of red spot that the pediatrician can't tell what it is. It may be the tube for that ear that's migrated, or a cyst or something else. We're going to an ENT on Monday to find out. Poor girl, she's had so much trouble with her ears. Now that the tubes aren't functioning, she still gets infections, but they're like what you describe -- mild, no fever, no crankiness, but every time she has a cold or allergies for more than a few days, you can bet she's got one.

FC Mom said...

Sounds like you and your doc have a good understanding about why or why not she might need tubes. I am taking my little guy to the doc this week to make sure his ears have cleared up! But as long as they are happy, sleeping OK, and hearing OK, I guess as they grow the Eustachian tubes get less gunk-prone? I do think the hearing can be a BIG DEAL so you are smart to monitor that carefully.