4 Year Old Failed Part of Hearing Test

Updated on September 02, 2008
C.P. asks from Martinsville, VA
20 answers

I took my 4 year old daughter to the ped. when she complained of her right ear hurting, and I assumed it would be an ear infection, a week of antibiotics, and we're good. The ped. couldn't even see her ear drum due to the wax that had compacted and solidified in her ear and almost totally sealed it off. He did two soaks of this pink liquid, then flushed the ear, and finally had to remove it with a small wand.

I've been checking her ears for more buildup, and now the left one is almost sealed (it was fine at the appt.) and the right one is starting to develop heavy wax again. I did call and get an Rx from the ped. so I'll feel better about the wax once I have the solution to put in her ears.

I had him test her hearing (after the pea-sized ball of wax was removed) since her gymnastics instructor mentioned that it seems she can't hear instruction sometimes (not due to inattentiveness), and she failed in the 1000 Hz range (low range), didn't hear a sound. So, I'm taking her for a formal hearing test with a specialist to find out exactly what that means. She has no speech problems, so that is reassuring to me.

As a little history, when I was her age, my mother took me for a hearing test and I failed in the mid-range, but the doctor told her I would "grow out of it", though I believe I still have a problem, as I have to read lips to completely "hear" what people are saying.

I'm interested to know if anyone else has dealt with some range of hearing problems with their kids, and what typically results from failing a hearing test. Thanks so much!

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So What Happened?

I want to thank everyone who responded for the great information. My daughter had her hearing test yesterday, and she passed, though her right ear didn’t do as well as her left ear, and there was one part of the test that was below the rest (but not significantly enough to make her “fail”). Fortunately, there was no fluid in her ears, no holes, so physically, her ears are fine.

As far as her excessive ear wax, the doctor removed all the wax and I've been given instructions to use baby oil (2 drops/ear) once a week to keep it from building up. She'll probably deal with this indefinitely.

With the issues I described to the doctor, including what her gymnastics instructor talked to me about, the doctor thinks it’s likely that she has Auditory Processing Disorder, but that’s not something they can test her for until she’s 7, as they’re just not developed enough for the test until then. When I looked up the symptoms of APD, I told my husband "That's it, all of it. That's what she has."

My husband and I made the decision to homeschool several years ago, and if she does have APD, it just makes us more confident in our decision to do so. All of our curriculum choices have been very hands-on, rather than "wordy", which is great for her!

Thank you all so much again, it's great to know that there are moms in similar situations who can give advice, whether it's to find an ENT, research a dairy allergy, or make sure I let instructors know about the situation... it's reassuring to know I'm not the only one going through something.

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answers from Washington DC on

My 12 yr. old son has a bilateral profound hearing loss.
I consider myself a non medical parent expert on hearing loss in kids. I've been through battery of tests with my son, and spoken with parents,ENT's pediatricians and audiologists about hearing loss at all levels.
Please email me privately if you like and I'm happy to discuss and answer questions about my thoughts and suggestions about what is next and give you referrals to great professionals in this field in this area.
Hope I can help,
L. M.

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answers from Atlanta on

When I was younger I had many ear infections. I guess as a result when I was 9 I was found to have hearing loss in my right ear. I wanted to share the upside with you. I joke about it but it's really true - if I want a good nap (especially on Sunday afternoons when my neighbor is mowing) I sleep with my good ear down and I sleep great! So there is a positive side to everything! :)

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answers from Chicago on

Glad to hear that you are getting this taken care of.

I've worn HA since I was about 3 years old. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

I did want to add, however, that I wouldn't advise using baby oil. I've found that using baby oil leaves a residue in the ears that is not easily removed. I use an all natural oil called Miracell and it is truly amazing. Just a drop or 2 every night before bed and that's it. It is completely absorbed by the body and doesn't leave a residue (which can further hinder hearing).

If you want more info on Miracell, you can check out their website at http://www.miracell.com

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Hi there,
My kids have a tendency to build up wax in their ears too. Years ago my ped suggested mixing 1 part peroxide & 1 part mineral oil & dropping 1-2 drops in the ear once a week. The oil makes the wax softer & the perox. dissolves the wax. It works.
On another note, my daughter (who was adopted at age 3 1/2 years) has a total hearing loss in her right ear. We don't know how or when it happened, but something must have occured before she came to us from the Phillipines. I had noticed over a period of abt. 8 months that she was "loud" & didn't "obey" like I thought she should. We took her to an ENT doctor & had her hearing tested. Sure enough, total hearing loss in right ear. However, the doctor said her left ear is fine & will compensate for the right ear. Now she is in school & I am sure to notify the teachers (& coaches) abt. her hearing loss b/c it does affect her ability to learn. You need to speak to her face-to-face (or atleast in her "good" ear). The hearing loss gives the impression she is not "listening", which, of course, is not the case. It's not the end of the world, but you do have to make adjustments.
Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Rockford on

I just read this and didn't read all the replies, but wanted to share my experience. My son started to lose his hearing in his right ear at about age 3. He had an ear infection and use to get them frequently in the past, so after antibiotics they finally suggested tubes. He got them and healed, but his hearing didn't improve. We were then sent to specialists in Chicago. After a cat scan they found (after looking twice and giving a misdiagnosis the first time) that he had a cholestatomia which had likely been growing since birth. It's is like a cyst behind his ear drum, which is difficult to diagnosis, but can be dangerous if not caught. He had surgery to remove it and put in a prostetic ear bone(stapes bone) which the cyst had damaged. He actually had this surgery again recently, as it grew back. We were told there was a 1/3 chance it would. His hearing is now not perfect, but better in his right ear. I just wanted to share, as this is something that is easily missed.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Last year my daughter (age three at the time) complained of ear pain. I took her to the doctor and there was no ear infection. He then checked the fluid level in her ear with a tympanogram. Sure enough, her ear was full of fluid even though there was no infection. She also did poorly on a hearing test. Our pediatrician took her off all dairy. Apparently, a dairy allergy can cause the adenoids to swell, and that prevents fluid from draining through the eustachian tubes. Also, I read that fluid in the ears can sometimes resolve itself. For us, what worked was when the Dr. prescribed Rhinocort nasal spray to shrink her adenoids. She had fluid on her ears for four months, and it took only two weeks on the Rhinocort to solve the problem. Our Dr. also recommends olive oil to loosen ear wax. Last but not least, you should let your pediatrician know about your hearing problem. It could be significant. Good luck!

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answers from Seattle on

I am so grateful you are such a smart Mom-. '''' She'll grow out of it''' was so colossaly unhelpful that I am shocked that a doctor would ------ahhhhhh, well--- we all wish doctors were saints and heroes - and only a few rise to that.

Is her speech AND HER LANGUGE development where it should be??? That she is speaking clearly is fabulous- is she using the complexity and '''richness''' of vocabulary that a 4 year old should be???? If not- you may consider asking your local school ( the district is required by federal law to provide any and all support that she needs to be successful academically- and the ''yardstick''' begins at birth- Most districts provide contracts with birth to 3 centers - and provide support for 3 to 5 year olds within the district. -- For example if her speech was poor at age 2 - due to hearing issues - the district would have been required to provide speech therapy at a ''birth to 3'' center --Most people don't know that - but it is true - in any public school district in America-- vision issue? - motor problem? - social, cognitive delay? the district must provide testing- and if the delay is significant- the district must provide therapy --- the only '''catch''' is that the delay must meet a federal guideline of severity- but so many parents don't know- so they never ask. You would call your local school- and say---- ( if you were concerned about her language development) -- ''' I want my daughters language development tested because--- --- where do I take her?"'''

You get a huge star--

many blessings,
J. ( retired special ed teacher - )

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answers from Hickory on

Hi, C.!

I wanted to share my experience with you as soon as I read your request. My son, who is now 11, has experienced hearing issues since he was very small. Unlike your daughter, however, my son did experience some slight speech delays in preschool--nothing that significantly impaired his communication--just simple difficulties such as understanding the words of a song, etc.

I would encourage you to stay on top of your daughter's hearing. A reputable ENT/Audiology clinic would be best for follow-up. Look for someone who specializes in children as they are more likely be in tune with a child your daughter's age.

The audiologist will perform the hearing test. For the best results, your daughter will be placed in a sound proof chamber with a window. The audiologist will be located right outside the window and will have visual and hearing contact constantly. They may let you sit inside with your daughter depending on her comfort level, but you will have to remain very quiet and avoid giving her any feedback on how she is doing on the test.

Your daughter will wear headphones, and they will likely do a variety of tests on both ears. They may say words and ask her to repeat them. It is possible that they will place a special microphone behind her ear for certain part of the test. This helps them know if any loss involves the auditory nerve. They may also perform a test that involves blowing air across the eardrum. This will determine whether there is a blockage of some sort that is causing the loss she is experiencing.

Depending on the results, they may choose to re-test after a certain period of time for comparison, or they may suggest some sort of treatment, such as tubes, in the interim.

My son is fairly unusual, and we had to stay on top of the testing for several years before we found someone to truly address his situation. Like your daughter, his loss was in the mild to moderate range, and the idea was that he would "outgrow" it over time. In one-on-one conversations, his problems were not noticeable at all--only in noisy environments, or as you noted in situations where the sports instructor may be farther away or not looking directly at my son's face.

My son has a conductive hearing loss in one ear. One physician has suggested reconstructive surgery, but we are not ready to take that step as the recovery is long, and he may actually lose additional hearing if the surgery does not go well. His auditory nerve is in perfect working order.

In kindergarten and first grades, the school provided an FM system---which is like an amplifier that sits on the child's desk. The teacher wears a wireless microphone so that no matter where she is in the room, the sound is constant for the impaired child. My son also had one-on-one therapy with a hearing specialist to learn techniques to adapt to his hearing loss. The results were amazing!

When he was in the third grade, we had him fitted with a hearing aid--which he wears during school instruction hours. Otherwise, he has done a great job of adapting to the situation and functions very well. We are careful to alert teachers, coaches, etc. to his situation so that they won't assume that he isn't paying attention to them and will provide preferred classroon seating, etc.

The experts suggest that mild hearing impairments are among the most common factors in school behavior problems and classroom performance issues. Hearing impairments can result from allergies to certain environmental issues or foods. You may want to ask the doctor about a simple blood test to determine any allergies your child may have.

You are her greatest advocate! Pay attention to her body language. Does she turn to hear? Does she have to look at people to really understand what they are saying? Does she listen to music or the TV very loudly? Does she ask you to repeat yourself often? Does she gesture when she wants something rather than using words? Communicate all of this information to your doctor.

If your daughter has multiple tests that demonstrate a loss, don't simply walk away, find someone who can help you understand what the loss means and how you can address it. Communicate closely with her teachers at school.

My son went from below average in reading, math, etc. . . to being the top student in his grade level once his problems were addressed. Along the way, several physicians poo-pooed my concerns. The audiologists were my allies and helped me to understand exactly what the losses meant so that I could advocate for my son. No matter how mild a loss is, how your particular child responds to it is what counts! Every person is different.

I know this note is rambling and LONG! My apologies. If, however, you would like any additional resources or information. . . please feel free to send me a personal note. I have learned so much about hearing and children over the past few years--how to handle it in school, issues you may face in other areas, etc. . . that I am happy to share with anyone who is interested.

Good luck with the testing. Regardless of the results, you daughter is lucky that she has a mom who is proactive on her behalf! Best wishes for great results!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

This happened to my son over 25 years ago. The audiologist said that the nerve endings had not fully developed in his right ear. The suggestion then was to make sure that his right ear was against the wall and that he always sat in the front row. Unfortunately, even with a medical explanation, every year I would have to go in to the teachers and explain his situation. Some would believe me and some would not. You will have to become an advocate for hier hearing. She might outgrow it, my son either had done around the time he reached high school or he learned to compensate for it.
Apparently it is much more common that we might know and often the children are diagnosed as ADD because they turn around to find out what they missed and interrupt the class.

My son passed the tonal hearing tests, but when he had the headphones put on and background noise filtered into the test all he heard was garbled noises. My son had no hearing problems also. Make sure the audiologist tests for background noises. I am sure they probably will.

Good luck...it is manageable but you will need to keep on top of it if it is just immature nerve endings.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would suggest taht you don't worry too much yet. My daughter had the same experience at her 4 year old check up. She ended up passing when I asked the nurse to check again. My mom says the same thing happened to me - I failed around four and had to hsee a specialist who passed me. I think ped instruments aren't always that sensitive and kids don't always understand what to do nor are consistent in tehir responses.

By all means follow-up, but what most peds do is really just a screening test, you'll have a ton more information from a specialist and hopefully that will be good news.

Also, if she does have any loss, it is really good that you are catching it at a great agem before school, so she can learn coping strategies.Speech/hearing therapists are great atr teaching coping strategies, and helping you learn how to talk with her teachers etc to help her in the classroom.

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answers from Indianapolis on

I realize that this is an older post, but I encourage you to go see ENT Dr. Charlotte Dugan.
She's AMAZINGLY great.
My daughter just had her Adnoids removed by her & we're on the up & up so far. She didn't even have pain with the surgery.
I've not heard of putting baby oil in ears daily. At least it should be some form of non-build up type of stuff. Have you tried your Health Food store for a homeopathic remedy??
I'd call Dr. Dugan for a second opinion since your child only gets 2 ears. Make sure they stay healthy.

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answers from Washington DC on

Hi C.. My experiences are with having a hearing loss all my life. Mine is in a very high range, which makes it difficult to discriminate between some consonants. I also do a good deal of "lip reading" to understand what people are saying, and learned to interpret words based on context. I also step closer to people, and turn my better ear towards them. I had no problems with speech, like you and your daughter. I suspect that your daughter will devise similar strategies to help her understand people.

My hearing loss is in a region that is not easy to compensate for with a hearing aid, so I never had that opportunity. The audiologist who evaluates your daughter will be able to advise you on the usefulness of hearing aids for her. A lot of this will depend on the reason for the loss. If it is nerve loss, then nothing will change it, the nerves are dead. If this is related to a problem in the bones in her ear that conduct the sound to the nerves, then she may be helped with surgery. An ENT doctor will be the best person to make that determination, based on the results from the audiologist. Many times they are all part of the same practice. And I would definitely pursue the reason for all that ear wax, it could be related. An ENT will be able to help with that as well as your pediatrician.

If she continues to have problems hearing instructions at times, when she enters school it may be useful to have her identified as a student with special needs. You and the school can devise an individual plan that will require the teachers to be sure she has heard instructions. If you think it is important you could require that she be seated at the front of the classroom and that the physical education instructors get eye contact (so she can see their faces if she lip reads to help her hearing) before they give instructions. That is for later, but now her gymnastics instructor should be advised to get eye contact with her before giving instructions, because this could be a safety issue. I'm sure the instructor will be happy to comply.

Good luck, I hope this has helped you.

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answers from Charlottesville on

My son had serious problems with fluid in his ears and ear wax. His Eustachian<sp> tubes did not drain properly. He took a liquid prescription medication to keep the draining right. He had to have tubes when he was about 26mo. old. That solved his problems. My step son is hearing impaired it was not discovered until he was 4 years old. He started out with mild to moderate hearing loss which has progressed over the years to a profound bi-lateral loss.

He had hearing tests done by the audiologsit once a year until he was 12 years old then they did them every couple of years after that. I remember when he was about 4years old going to the 1st test with him. He was nervous but the audiologist put him at ease and explained what he was doing and what my son needed to do. They had little boxes with a monkey in one and a clown in the other and when they played a sound the moneky or the clown would do something. This link might help you understand the testing procedure a little better faculty.augie.edu/~pchanavan/audiology/Chapter6.ppt

Hope this helps


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answers from Washington DC on

I understand your situtation. My daugter was diagnosed as deaf at the age of 2. It turns out her eustachian tubes were so tiny they were not draining properly and stayed filled with fluid. I found a doctor who thought tubes might help so we did that...and sure enough it worked. Now she has a slight hearing loss in one ear but not enough to worry about. She does sit at the front of the class and things such as that. I think another mother mentioned that in her post. When you go for the real hearing test it will be more in depth and you will get a better idea of what you are dealing with. They make it kid friendly. Little stuffed animals will pop up in a corner of the room to help put your child at ease. It will be a fun experience for her. 2 of my daughters have had to do it and they both liked it.Hannah had to do it every year while she was in grade school. Sarah only had to do it once.
good luck

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answers from Washington DC on

My son has had problems with ear infections since he was about 3 months old. His pediatrician just kept putting him on medication after medication. He failed his hearing test as well when he was 2 and finally started talking after they put the tubes in. As soon as those fell out after 6 months he got a full blown double ear infection and a ruptured eardrum. So now he is 4 and has had tubes replaced as well as his adenoids removed last year and I have had no problems now.



answers from Boca Raton on

Dear C.,

I have one child who used to get incredible amounts of wax in his ears. He doesn't anymore. The only thing we have changed, is our eating habits. We no longer drink milk as it produces so much mucus in the system that it actually helps us get colds. We eat mostly raw vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds. We stay away from any 'food' that has food additives in them. A little poisoning 'food additives' constantly in our foods, makes us unable to fight off dis-eases as readily as if we ate it just once in a while. It took us about a year to completely clear his ears this way. Hope this helps!




answers from Detroit on

hi there- i just signed on to mamasource yesterday because a friend wanted me to confirm her group and this was in my mail today. DS is 8 yo and is deaf- cochlear implant. i don't know much about ear infections but i do know about hearing loss and the effect that it has on children's behavior and schooling. so please do follow up w/ the drs/ents/audiologist/school professionals and if dd is having trouble in school- if she is in preschool- then keep that in mind. it is really rough for a kid even w/ a minor temporary hearing loss in school.



answers from Phoenix on

Regarding ear wax, my mom and I were talking on videophone (yes, we're both deaf and yes we have way cool stuff because of that!) just yesterday and she mentioned that chewing is something that helps to move along ear wax. (Those on liquid diets probably should chew gum!) Ears should have some amount of ear wax in them naturally - although a huge amount is detrimental, obviously.

Do follow up, but don't worry too much about whether your child 'passes' the hearing test. The only reason this is important is so that you know how best to help her acquire information in her world to make her able to learn and grow and be the person she can be.
Sign language is a *VERY* good way to do this. The reason I say this is because I am deaf and although I can speak fairly clearly, I CANNOT learn to hear any clearer than I do. I wear hearing aids all the time and associate with hearing people in the community all the time so it is not for lack of trying!

A fun video series to check out from the library (or purchase) is Signing Time. I *HIGHLY* recommend this - kids and adults alike enjoy and learn from this.

My son is 6 years old and deaf also and wears hearing aids and has an interpreter full time in the public school (I dont know where you are, but we're out west in Buckeye) He is a very very bright kid who is reading on the 3rd grade level so deafness is NOT an issue. It's the communication that is - whether a complete lack of, distorted or unclear communication.

Schools can and do help with screening tests and things like that. If not an IEP, then a 504 educational plan. It may be simple as the teacher being aware of your daughter's needs, having an FM system in the classroom so your daughter can hear the teacher better than through all the classroom noise (this is great for kids with auditory processing disorder too - I have a friend whose son has that, she would be a HUGE resource for you if you'd like to know more about this.) or whatever your child's needs are.

Please feel free to send me a message or email me ([email protected]____.com).



answers from Portland on

I want to add a bit of information about what your daughter may experience. Last year I was diagnosed with uneven hearing in my ears. One ear hears better than the other. I found this problem after I hadn't felt well for a year or more. I've had a general feeling of discomfort most of my life.

The ENT said that when one has uneven hearing they have difficulty knowing from which direction sound is coming. They can also be dizzy-slightly thru seriously. I knew I could'nt tell from what direction sound was coming. I learned that my general feeling of discomfort, almost being dizzy is related to the uneven hearing.

The year before I had the hearing test I felt almost dizzy to mildly dizzy most of the time. This caused nausea. I am 65. I don't know if children experience the same difficulties.

I had physical therapy after they determined that the dizziness was most likely caused by loose debris in my ear canal. There is a specific movement that the therapist uses that is supposed to move the debris to the bottom of the ear canal where it doesn't cause dizzines. I didn't know how really bum I'd been feeling until I stopped being almost dizzy.

I think the debris in the ear is unrelated to why one can hear better out of one ear than the other.



answers from Washington DC on

You want to take you daughter to an Ear Nose and throat Dr. My son had the same problems but he had constant fevers associated with his. Eventually he ended up having tubes placed in his ears and ever since then he as been hearing and speaking well.

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