Can Ear Tubes Cause a Delay in Speech?

Updated on January 15, 2009
J.A. asks from Hartsville, SC
13 answers

I know that ear tubes are supposed to correct hearing but I wonder if they can distort hearing. My son had tubes when he was a year old and he is now 20 months old. He had chronic ear infections before the tubes and has only had two infections since the tubes. The problem is, he doesn't talk. He babbles alot but no real words. He is healthy in every other area-fine motor, gross motor, social etc except for the speech. I am getting his hearing tested next week, but this is starting to drive me nuts! Sometimes it seems as if he can hear and other times it doesn't.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Well, I have decided to put him in a different daycare with children his own age. The daycare worker works with him daily on skills. I have also contacted the early intervention program in our area. He is set up to have a hearing eval. soon. I am sure I will see lots of progress!

Featured Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.P.

answers from Atlanta on

I agree with consulting a speech therapist. Or you can contact the Babies Can't Wait program and they will evaluate him for free. The chronic ear infections almost certainly meant he was living with a buildup of fluid in his ears. That would have affected his hearing, and then affected his speech. If you can't hear speech, you can learn it. My son, who is now 7, went through the same thing. We didn't start speech therapy with him until after he was nearly 4 and I wish we had started earlier. But the therapy does work, today he's great!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.

answers from Augusta on

hello Jill.
My daughter didn't start talking until she turned 2, it was like the day she turned 2 she suddenly decided that it was time to start talking in complete sentences. My son was even later , boys tend to do milestones later than girls. I wouldn't worry. My son still has some pronunciations problems but he's 4 it's not uncommon for them to have the same letter switching he does.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.T.

answers from Atlanta on

Ginny is right. It's not the tubes but the chronic ear infections causing his speech problems. The tubes are the solution! His hearing has been muffled by all that fluid in his ears for so long and so frequently that he couldn't hear and process others' speech sounds properly. Children learn speech by listening, watching, and absorbing the speech around them. Once those tubes do their thing, he'll start picking up sounds and start talking soon. If nothing changes in a couple of months, go see a speech therapist.

As far as preventing ear infections, remember that the nose is connected to the ears by the Eustacian tube, and what goes up the nose can irritate the ears. Make sure that no one smokes in the house or no smokers go near him due to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-hand smoke. Keep the air in the house clean of other kinds of air pollution, meaning no incense, no scented candles, no air fresheners, no smoke, no perfume, and limit exposure to fumes and household cleaners. Also, make sure that he's not laying down while drinking liquids to prevent liquids from going up the Eustacian tube. If he's got reflux, have him stay upright for 30 minutes after eating/drinking. Keep him away from sick kids/adults and treat his runny nose to keep mucus from going up there as well.

Best of luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

G.K.

answers from Atlanta on

I've never heard of ear tubes causing speech delay. In addition to a hearing test, I would also advise that you have him evaluated by a speech/language pathologist. His lack of speech could easily be a result of a hearing loss, but it might not. My daughter was diagnosed at 3 with a neurological speech disorder called Childhood Apraxia of Speech. There are many different causes of speech delay, but the earlier a problem is detected the better. My daughter received speech therapy starting at age 2 1/2 and is now 6 and doing great! I can't stress enough that early intervention is the key!

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

G.P.

answers from Albany on

Yes, it's not the tubes that are delaying the speech it's all the ear infections.. My son had chronic year infections his whole year of life. He is now 2. We got his hearing tested at 9 months and he only had 9% hearing in his left ear at 15 months he had his tubes put in. My husband and I have put our son in speech therapy right after his tubes were put in. It has helped a little we have also have taught our son sign language and that has helped. We also had an allergy test done and he has no allergies. Our son has another hearing test on Monday and if he fails we have to see what our options are next. I just wanted you to know that you are not the only one going through this.. It just takes patience to see what is going on.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.D.

answers from Atlanta on

I don't know if they distort hearing but your son was definitely hearing things distorted before the tubes. Let me explain. My son was not talking by 20 months either and everyone (doctors included) thought I was being a paranoid 1st time mom. We had his hearing tested and found a hearing loss in 1 ear so he had tubes put in. He was 2-2 1/2 by then. He constantly had fluid in his ears before this but we never knew there was an infection until it was real bad. He never complained and wasn't whiny about it-high pain threshhold I guess. Anyway, we got him into speech therapy and all was resolved and he was caught up to his peers by the end of 1st grade. He is doing great and is now 14 years old. I think that the only reason he was delayed is because he was not hearing correctly at the precise time that language is developing (the age your son was at before the tubes), so this could be what's happening with your son. If I had known better I would have gotten it all treated much earlier. I would suggest contacting the child find program through your public school system who will test him for free and give him speech therapy if needed. This is a free and required service through the public schools. If you do not want to go this route you can also contact a local speech therapist for testing. Some insurances might even cover, just check with your coverage first. There is also a lot of free help online if you google speech therapy or speech delays or something like that. Didn't they retest his hearing after the tubes were put in? If you have any other questions I'd be glad to assist, just send me an email.
K. in GA
[email protected]____.com

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.B.

answers from Augusta on

He may just be slow starting. He may end up being one of those kids who doesn't speak until they're 2 1/2, then start talking in full sentences. Whether he has normal hearing or not, start teaching him sign language. It will definitely facilitate oral language.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.F.

answers from Atlanta on

Oh honey, I could write a novel on this subject. Let me start off by saying it's not the tubes. The tubes are there to relieve the pressure and create a way for fluid to leave the ear canal. Your child's problem is or was that during the time of the chronic ear infections was the begining of the time when kids start to become aware of sounds and that they have meaning. So instead of him hearing clearly, he heard muffled sounds like he was deep underwater. So, now that the tubes are in and fluid gone, he is hearing words as they should be heard and has to learn them all over again, which creates the delay. Now, are you doing the hearing test at your ENT's office? That is where I recommend you start, because if there is a problem w/ his hearing, he could have fluid in his ears now or the tube may have fallen out or is blocked. You can have that all looked at in one visit. 2nd, no matter the outcome of the test, make an appointment to see you pediatrician and express your concerns. And I mean express your concerns. You will need a referral to have an evaluation for Babies Can't Wait. This is a great state sponsored program as someone else before mentioned. You can also have him evaluated and have private speech. It all depends on your preference. I will warn you that the road you are about to travel down is a long one for some. Things take time to figure out and you will become much more frustrated than you are now. But you are not alone. My daughter is 32mo and is now on her 4th set of tubes (done in Oct). She has almost always had fluid in her ear. At 18mo we thought she might be autistic because she would never acknowledge anyones existance. This was the time we started the eval process w/ Babies Cant Wait. At 21mo, she had a hearing test done at Scottish Rite where they actually put her under and a week after that she had her 2nd set of tubes. Her hearing was fine because she didn't have fluid in her ears. So luckily there was no permantent damage. It has taken a while to rule out autism, but luckily for us, it was. I tell you all this because I want you to know that I understand your frustration. We, as parents, want to know what is happening w/ our children so we can fix it and now. You are very lucky that your child is social. Believe me, that is big step in ruling some things out as far as hearing goes. Please keep in mind, too that he may have selective hearing. After all, he is coming up on the terrible twos. If I can do anything for you, please email me directly (just click on my name). I would be happy to help or just listen to you vent. I have plenty of names for ENTs, Speech Therapists, and my wonderful coordinator w/ Babies Cant Wait. Good Luck to you. I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.B.

answers from Savannah on

I did not read what everyone else wrote (I know lazy of me) but I wanted to tell you it's not the tubes. My duaghtr got tubes in when she was 18months old...she had to do speech therapy to get caught up. Think about it this way...for the first year your son was here he couldn't hear...now that he has the tubes he can hear but he's trying to catch up with learning all the sounds that he wasn't able to hear the first year.

First, I would have his hearing checked. The ENT probably has done this but I would ask anyway at follow-up visits.

Second, my suggestion is to have him evaluated and possibly see a speech therapist. This has worked wonders with my daughter.
Good Luck! :)

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.S.

answers from Columbia on

I would talk to your pediatrician regarding the delay in speech. All those ear infections probably impaired his hearing. This happened to my cousin's son and he is improving leaps and bounds with a speech therapist. The pediatrician may wait until he is a little older for the speech therapist to determine if your son will improve on his own. But, he will be fine. Hang in there!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.B.

answers from Atlanta on

Does he hear when he is facing you and not hear when his back is turned toward you? He may be depending on reading your face and body language, to help with the lessened hearing.
My grandson had tubes, plus his adenoids removed. He did not talk, until these problems were solved. Now, he talks non-stop.
S. B.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D.P.

answers from Atlanta on

I'd be curious about having his hearing checked. So, you're doing what I would do in your shoes. I don't think the tubes are causing the speech delay -- that's not anything I've ever heard of. For now, don't worry. Boys are often slower on the verbal thing so, in all likelihood, everything is just fine. I hope everything turns out just fine!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.J.

answers from Charleston on

Hi Jill,
I'm going to give my thoughts here. I would say proably not the tubes. I would suggest chiropractic treatment for his future ear needs and he will feel better overall too. Have you ever heard of vaccines causing speech delay? It happens everyday and some people just dont have a clue what they expose there children to. I would certainly not have anymore vaccines given with such a delay. Childhoodshots.com can offer some great information about this, along with Jenny McCarthys book, Mother Warriors. I have also done extensive reasearch on this so feel free to ask any questions! Yes your child can go to any school you want them to without vaccines. THEY just dont tell you that. I really wish you the best of luck!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches