Welcome to the Cleft Support blog. This blog was created as a resource and to provide support to parents with a child born with cleft lip and/or palate.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ear Tubes, Tonsils, Sleep Studies, Oh My!

Today was Gavin's bi-annual ENT appointment.  To recap, Gavin had his first set of ear tubes put in when he was 4 months old.  He's had his left tube replaced twice, and his right tube replaced once.  The idea behind ear tubes is that they help to drain fluid that gets caught in the middle ear (a common problem for many children, especially those with clefts) which can cause hearing loss.  We were referred to an ENT when Gavin was 3 months old, due to the fact that he had already had quite a few ear infections and because of the severity of his cleft.

On top of getting his tubes checked out (to see if they're still in place), we also had to discuss the results of a sleep study that was done at the end of April.  Gavin's surgeon ordered a sleep study because, initially, he had many problems sleeping after his last surgery.  For quite awhile, I felt as if I still had a newborn.  Gavin would wake up many times during the night.  He usually ended up in bed with me, and then his sleep was restless, and he snored quite a bit.  However, in the past few months, his sleep has improved.  However, our surgeon said that he orders a sleep study at some point on all of his patients who have had a palate repair, so we figured why not do it now?

The results came back that Gavin has Borderline Obstructive Sleep Apnea due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and the sleep technician wanted us to see our ENT about possibly having Gavin's tonsils and adenoids removed.  We weren't really keen on this idea since, one, his sleep was improving, and, two, we really didn't want Gavin to have to undergo yet another procedure.  But, we scheduled an appointment with the ENT to see what he recommended.

After the ENT checked Gavin's tonsils and adenoids, he agreed with our position of doing nothing about them right now.  He said they weren't overly enlarged, and if his sleep is improving, why bother with another procedure.  Gavin's left ear tube was still nicely in place, but his right tube had finally come out.  The ENT wanted to take a look at the right ear, so we went to another room where he actually removed the tube that had fallen out.  Well, it hadn't exactly "fallen out," but had gone further into his ear canal.  Upon removing the old tube, the ENT discovered that Gavin had a small hole in his right eardrum, which can sometimes happen with ear tubes.  He was not overly concerned about the hole, but asked us to stick around and do a hearing test.

Gavin did really well with the hearing test, and his hearing is within normal range - which is great considering he has a hole in his eardrum.  The ENT explained that, right now, the hole is actually acting like an ear tube - helping drain any liquid that could be caught in his inner ear.  As of this time, he is not going to replace the right tube since the whole is doing its job.  However, the hole could close up, and if liquid begins to become trapped again, we'll have to replace the tube because the liquid can cause hearing loss.  The only thing we really need to worry about regarding the hole is Gavin getting water in his ear.  He will have to wear earplugs and a special headband to hold them in when he swims.

This week is a busy week; we go to the dentist tomorrow and the cleft clinic on Wednesday!

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