A Visit With the Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor
A few days ago, my 4-year-old son, Cayden, visited one of the specialists that he sees less frequently: the otolaryngologist, or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor. Cayden’s been seeing this doctor since he was about 2. These checkups are necessary because Cayden has experienced hearing loss due to a buildup of fluid in his ears. Along with the hearing loss, the constant fluid buildup kept causing Cayden to get painful ear infections.
Luckily, this type of hearing loss has a fairly simple fix. Small ear tubes, or tympanostomy tubes, are placed in a patient’s ears to help drain the fluid that has accumulated there. Cayden had his first set of ear tubes placed when he was about 2 and a half. I was nervous about the procedure, but I quickly learned that I had nothing to worry about. The procedure itself takes about 10 minutes total, and you can even leave on the same day.
Cayden’s first set of tubes lasted for a little over a year. During this time, he passed his hearing tests with flying colors and even started becoming more vocal. I can imagine it was much easier for him to communicate better now that he was hearing clearly. The doctors told us that whenever someone has chronic fluid in their ears, it can sound like they’re underwater. I don’t know how anyone could deal with that.
At Cayden’s most recent visit with his ENT doctor, we learned that his ear tubes had fallen out. The doctor also mentioned that he could see fluid buildup accumulating in Cayden’s ears once again. This was a surprise to me because Cayden hadn’t been getting ear infections again, and he’d also started talking and using his voice a lot more since the new year began.
To decide whether Cayden would need another set of ear tubes, his doctor had him complete another hearing test. To no surprise, Cayden failed the test this time. Once his doctor saw the results, he told us that it was time to schedule Cayden for another set of tubes.
We got the procedure set up for the beginning of May, and I’m hopeful that this time around will be just as smooth sailing as the last. But as always, I worry about Cayden when he has to receive anesthesia. Due to his infantile-onset Pompe disease, he has a very difficult airway and weak lungs. But he’s received anesthesia enough times that I feel confident that the team knows what it’s doing.
I’m hopeful that one day Cayden will be able to go without the ear tubes, but until then we will continue our checkups with the ENT doctor to ensure that everything is going the way it should.
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