‘What’s Up Doc’ is a health column in association with The Crawley Observer, which gives you the opportunity to ask questions regarding general health and wellbeing.
Answers are provided weekly from our specialist consultants at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, Surrey. If it’s a long-standing illness or simply a worry which you would like to get off your mind then we would like to help. This weeks question is answered by Mr Kemal Bevan, consultant ENT surgeon.
This question appeared in The Crawley Observer on 19 December 2012, to readers across Surrey and Sussex. The question and answer is below, as it appeared in the newspaper.
“Hi Spire, my 6 year is having hearing problems, she is not concentrating at school as she is complaining that she can’t hear. She is having bad earaches and is in a lot of pain. This has been going on for 2 and half months now, I have been to see my GP and they asked that I keep monitoring it for a few more weeks. However it’s getting to the point where I can’t bear to see her in any pain. Can you help? What is the problem with her hearing? Is there a treatment for this”? Thanks. Kate, Three Bridges
"Dear Reader, I am sorry to hear that your 6 year old daughter has a combination of hearing loss as well as earache. Commonest cause of hearing loss in children is due to formation of effusion in the middle ear, known as glue ear. This condition on its own without accompanying infection can be silent; hence it can present with delayed speech development, or having a hearing issue picked up by a teacher or a nursery nurse.
Other times a frustrated child unable to hear can be branded as having behavioural problem. In superadded infective form there is raised temperature and quite a severe pain unless there is perforation of the eardrum to release pressure. Taking an antibiotic in its acute painful stage along with pain killers plus minus nasal decongestant if there is associated cold and congestion tends to help. However should the hearing loss continue due to the presence of glue ear or earaches recurring it is advisable to be in touch with your GP.
A consultation by an ENT surgeon will pave the way not only ensuring paediatric audiological assessment but also consideration whether your daughter require insertion of ventilating tubes, known as grommets until there is satisfactory function of the Eustachian tubes that meant to be ventilating the ears. The grommets are usually extruded any time between 6 months to a year or so. On few occasions removal is required. Swimming is usually allowed though use of a headband and earplugs recommended. Each child needs to have a full assessment to include whether there is associated enlarged adenoid tissue or contribution by tonsillar tissue to repeat infections. One should also be aware that the condition could be self-limiting and spontaneous resolution can occur. Hence a period of monitoring may be required depending on the severity and length of symptoms present."