Good hearing is very beneficial to the development of language. Baby Body Signs states, "...babies learn to speak...almost effortlessly if all the components of hearing...are in place" (page 78). The ears aren't only about hearing, though. Let's discuss some key things to watch for with baby ears. These are just points I found most important to highlight from this book--there is more that I do not discuss.
The thing to really take note of is that if your baby has an ear abnormality, there is a chance she will also have kidney problems since they form at the same time. If your baby has abnormalities to her ear, bring it up to her pedi. Baby Body Signs states a baby with ear abnormalities should also have an ultrasound to check kidneys.
Parents are typically the ones to first notice a hearing problem with their child. Just because a child responds to sound doesn't mean there are no hearing issues. Sometimes a child is responding to a noise he can hear, vibrations, or movement.
If your baby doesn't seem to respond to your voice or is having difficulty learning to talk, you might want to have it looked at. "...early recognition of a hearing problem can lead to effective treatment" (page 83). My cousin has a boy 6 weeks younger than Brayden. He is her fifth child. I can't remember the exact age---I think it was about two--they realized he had some hearing problems. Up to that point, he did not talk and he apparently threw a lot of tantrums. They were able to correct the problems and he quickly caught up and today you would never know there was ever an issue.
Most hearing problems are present at birth, but there are many children who have an infection or injury that lead to hearing loss. Even some toys can cause hearing loss (see page 86).
Ear infections can lead to hearing loss, but they aren't gauranteed to do so. Some children are obvious that they have ear infections, and others are not. Did you know that only half of ear infections cause fever? Here are some signs:
- inconsolable crying
- rubbing or pulling on ears
- difficulty falling asleep
- not eating
- trouble with balance
- yellowish or reddish discharge from ear or eye
- hearing loss
McKenna has had two double ear infections back to back in the last two months. The first time, it got very bad before I realized what it was. She was fussy. She had trouble with balance (which I only realized after reading this book--I just thought she was being clumsy). The thing that got me to act was she was not eating and she woke up crying in the night. We took her to the doctor and got her some antibiotics and she was back to her old self.
A few weeks later, she suddenly started getting fussy--grumpy and impatient. She didn't have any other signs, but I was being hyper vigilant and took her right to the doctor and yes, she had a double ear infection again.
If your child has repeat ear infections, your doctor might suggest tubes. Tomorrow, McKenna will be checked to see if she has an infection again as a precaution. If she does, we will explore tubes. My doctor recommends tubes if your child has three infections in three months. This book doesn't talk about it, but here is what I understand so far.
The tube is put in to help prevent infection. It is does in an out-patient surgery under general anesthesia. While tubes are in, you need to limit water in ears. Tubes stay in the ears for 6-12 months and usually fall out on their own.
STUFFING THINGS IN EARS
Some children stuff things in ears. Some things will come out on their own, but you should not try to remove it yourself. See a doctor for help. You don't wan to damage ear tissue.
SEE DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY IF...
- Sudden loss of hearing
- Something stuck in ear
- Serious injury or blow to ear
- Bloody discharge or clear fluid coming from ear