When discussing the causes, cures, and treatments for Down syndrome, listening is a very important element to consider to ensure the health of your Down syndrome child.
Think about all the ways you gather information about the world around you. You see something, hear something, smell something, touch and feel it. What about developing language? Well, to develop language, you must be exposed to it. You have to hear other people speak, and learn how to decode what they say, before you start learning to make your own speech.
Why is hearing loss a problem for those with Down syndrome?
Hearing loss is often a problem for people with Down syndrome. Why is that? People with Down syndrome often experience hearing loss caused by smaller ear canals, which allows fluid and wax to accumulate in them. If they cannot hear well, it will be more difficult to learn how to get language and speak.
There are two types of hearing loss. One of them is called nerve-sensory, and that means damage to the acoustic nerve or cochlear of your ear. People with Down syndrome, most often have what is called conductive loss. This happens because the Eustachian tube, part of the ear canal, is smaller in people with Down syndrome. Liquid and wax can’t flow too, and ears can’t hear either. If too much material builds up in your ears, you get something called ear glue.
“Glue Ear” Can Be a Big Problem in Children with Down Syndrome
Ear glue is a thick buildup of mucus in the middle ear. Trying to hear something with glue ear is almost impossible. Imagine sticking your fingers in your ear and trying to listen to a conversation. Can you understand what is happening? Probably not.
Now imagine the age of one or two and try to find out what strange noise the adult is making in front of you. With ear glue, it will sound like a bunch of random syllables and no actual words.
You might see adults with blank expressions. This is important because children with Down syndrome have experienced delayed language and speech development, and hearing problems complicate this problem. You cannot learn about your world and develop well if you cannot hear or speak.
The Ear Tube Can Eliminate Many Hearing Problems in Children with Down Syndrome
So what do worried parents have to do? Fortunately, most of these hearing problems can be solved by something called an ear tube.
Ear tubes are small tubes that are placed in the ear to encourage drainage of fluids. This is a short-term action, often used for around six months to a year. At some point, the ear canal often falls on its own. However, long-term ear tubes are also available. The operation to put in an ear tube is very simple, and generally quite safe. Anesthesia is used to put the child under, and a small hole is made in the eardrum. Extra liquid is sucked out and the tube is inserted. The nice thing about this operation is that the hearing will return immediately after the tube is installed. Usually the procedure is 15 minutes.
Get Your Child’s Hearing Tested Regularly
It is important to get treatment for your child with Down syndrome if you suspect hearing loss. All children with Down syndrome must have regular hearing tests during the first few years of their lives, because hearing problems are very common in children with Down syndrome.
In some cases, ear glue can spontaneously turn around on its own; but in other cases, it will require treatment. Hearing loss can affect a child’s development a little, so that’s something you want to be careful of. However, with treatment, it shouldn’t be a problem for too long. And fortunately, your doctor has several treatment options available to prevent hearing loss in children with Down syndrome.