Can You Hear Me?

August 24th, 2012

I found out some information today that I thought I’d share with those who may be interested.  Ami had tubes placed in her ears when she had palate surgery, due to ear infections and minor hearing loss.  We had heard that this is common for cleft affected children because the eustachian tubes may be positioned differently, allowing fluid buildup.  I understood that by placing tubes, the fluid could now drain and alleviate pain and pressure, and that it should help prevent ear infections.  But no one told me how this works.  This site gives more detailed information on what is happening in the middle ear.

Several months ago Ami had an ear infection so we visited her pediatrician to get it taken care of, and were told that her tubes were doing what they were meant to do, draining the fluid.  We also saw that she had a lot of buildup of wax and crusty dried fluid.  Not wanting to disturb the tubes, her pediatrician wouldn’t remove it.  After realizing that her hearing was being compromised, we got a referral to a local ENT, and in a relatively simple procedure he removed LOTS and LOTS of wax!  The bill for the “surgery” was not so simple.  Six months prior to this, at her annual check up with the CL/CP team at Children’s Hospital, she had also had a substantial amount of wax removed by the ENT.  (Her hearing test indicated that her hearing was now in the normal range.)

Now three months go by and we notice Ami does not seem to be hearing so well.  Yep, we can see that wax building up again.  (For some reason, ear wax in Asians tends to be dry and sticks to the ear canal, so buildup isn’t easy to remove.)  We’re thinking, okay, I guess wax removal is going to be a quarterly event for this one!  Because of the tubes, we cannot give her ear drops to help with the process.  Well, after talking to an audiologist friend, we found out that their office will remove ear wax for a fraction of the cost.  Basically the same procedure, but not considered a surgery.

Today Ami had her appointment.  She even got to watch the process on the computer screen.  In talking with the audiologist, he said that the tubes do more than drain fluid.  They work as a substitute eustachian tube, allowing air into the middle ear also.  In layman terms, he explained that the tissues in the middle ear have moisture in them, and if the eustachian tube closes up due to a cold, etc, then the tissues will release fluid, like ringing out a sponge would do.  By allowing airflow, the tubes can prevent this fluid from forming in the ears.  I may not have gotten all my facts straight, but I thought it was quite interesting and helpful information.  So ears are cleaned out, Ami is feeling fine, and she no longer has an excuse for not hearing us!

Posted in Ami, Cleft surgery

One Response to “Can You Hear Me?”

  1. Andrea Says:

    Lydia has the same problem but without the tubes. Her one ear has such a tiny canal that the her dry hard wax blocks off all her hearing. I ask her pediatrician to check every time we visit. I found swimming has helped clear it out too.

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