One of the many medical complications faced by children with Down Syndrome is impaired hearing. Studies have shown that half of all children with Down Syndrome suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss can lead to impaired learning and impaired language development. The cause of hearing loss is usually fluid in the ear. The ear canal in children with Down Syndrome is often smaller and not shaped in a way that lends itself to proper drainage.
Ear Tubes: A Traditional Medical Treatment
Often ear tubes are recommended to elevate the problem. Ear tubes are small tubes inserted in the eardrum to facilitate drainage. For many children, ear tubes significantly improve hearing. However, it is important to note that these ear tubes are a temporary solution, as they fall out quickly.
Also, in children with Down Syndrome it is much less common for the eardrum to heal spontaneously. Often a hole remains in the eardrum where the tube was inserted. Holes in the eardrum cause impaired hearing as well. Often physicians are required to patch the holes in the eardrum of children with Down Syndrome caused by drainage tubes. They will not do this until the child has reached an age sufficient for the ear to drain on its own. In the meantime, hearing difficulties will continue.
Natural Remedies for Fluid in the Inner Ear
Alternatively, natural remedies can be used to prevent fluid build up in the ear canal, and avoid surgery or placement of ear tubes.
- Make sure the child drinks plenty of water each day.
- If the child is old enough, spicy foods will help drain the ears.
- Goldenseal is an herbal remedy for lessening fluid buildup in the inner ear.
- Cut down on saturated fats and replace these fats with unsaturated Omega 3 fatty acids from fish, nuts and seeds.
- Ensure the child is getting adequate amounts of A, C and B vitamins, preferably from food sources.
A child with Down Syndrome should undergo routine hearing tests once a year or anytime the child’s caregiver does not feel he is hearing properly. Signs that a child is not hearing properly include:
- not turning his head toward sounds or people speaking to him.
- in older children, failing to understand the meaning of words, or instructions.
Hearing tests can be done at birth using a special screening test called an Auditory Brainstem Response, or ABR. An ABR measures the response of various sounds. Locating a pediatric ear nose and throat doctor, or ENT, experienced with Down Syndrome, is a critical first step to ensuring a child’s hearing is properly monitored. Children’s hospitals exist throughout the United States and should be able to provide this necessary specialization.