If you read my post the other week – Don’t Worry Mummy – then you’ll know that we have had a bit of a to-do with Munchkin2 and his hearing tests. Last week we had another appointment to try again to get a response from his ears and see if there are any problems. This was now the fourth time he has had them tested since he was born 6 weeks ago, so I was really anxious to get some answers this time.
Learning from my mistake last time I left Munchkin1 with my Dad whilst my Mum accompanied me to the clinic. I never realised how long we would be there the last time but Munchkin1 made me a very proud Mummy by dealing with it so well and behaving for the whole 2 1/2 hours we were in there. This time we were there for 3 hours. The main issue with these tests is that the person having them done has to be really still and everything has to be quiet, so that means a baby needs to be fast asleep which isn’t the easiest thing to plan, especially when they’re having wires stuck all over the head and in their ears. They also need to be nice and relaxed so that the sensors don’t pick up any muscle tension so he was laid on a pillow on my knee, which was perfectly fine until the last half an hour or so when my legs cramped up.
Anyway, he was hooked up and the right ear was tested first again. Result! No problems this time and the responses came back clear so the hearing in his right ear is at a satisfactory level. This meant we could finally test the left ear which wasn’t possible at the last appointment because Munchkin2 became restless by the time we got to it. I sat there watching the screen as they tested each frequency and watched the lines on the graph appear, but I had absolutely no idea what it meant. The test that was done was called an Auditory Brainstem Response, so the graph shows the responses to each sound played which are different frequencies, but although I knew what it was I didn’t know what to look out for so I found myself also watching how the audiologists were reacting. The two audiologists were absolutely amazing, they knew just what to say and when to say it, and were so patient whenever Munchkin2 needed a Mummy cuddle or a feed to settle him again. Yet I still couldn’t help but worry as they simply did their job and discussed the results between themselves, looking a little concerned whenever another frequency was tried. They explained to me that the results were showing that he had a moderate to severe hearing loss in his left ear and that they would try a ‘no sound test’, as when they had done the test for glue ear earlier the line had been flat meaning there was some congestion there.
The ‘no sound test’ they were talking about involves using a bone vibrator device that is placed just behind the ear and vibrates the frequencies through the bone straight to the cochlea, bypassing the middle ear where any possible congestion may be. The results for this one were much more promising showing that the level of hearing loss was lower than they first thought. So after weeks of worry and 3 hours of dead leg watching wiggly lines they could finally tell me that he has a probable high frequency hearing loss made worse by glue ear. I say probable because until he is old enough to sit unaided and they can see how he reacts to sounds, these early tests are only an estimation of how he can hear. I have to take him for another test when he is around 7/8 months old and then regular 6 monthly check-ups to monitor his hearing. I’m also possibly getting my own hearing tested at the next appointment to see if my own hearing loss is similar, as this may help them understand his loss a bit more. I have a mild high frequency hearing loss, but they aren’t sure whether it has passed to him or is unrelated because mine is in both ears not one, and due to there being no newborn hearing screening when I was a baby my Mum never knew if I had it from birth or if it was an acquired loss caused by the Measles when I was around 2 years old.
So what is Glue Ear?
The audiologists gave me a booklet to explain it to me.For us to be able to hear clearly the middle ear needs to be kept full of air. We have a tube running from the middle ear all the way to the back of the throat called the Eustachian Tube where the air travels through. If this tube becomes blocked then the air cannot enter the middle ear and when this happens, the cells lining the middle ear begin to produce fluid. The fluid is like a runny liquid which can get thicker as it fills the middle ear. This makes it harder for sounds to pass through to the inner ear, and can make quieter sounds difficult to hear. It’s like listening to the world whilst sticking your fingers in your ears.
Who am I kidding… I’m a Mummy, I’ll never relax!