Journey to Baha

Posts Tagged ‘Unilateral Hearing Loss

I figure this whole blog will make a lot more sense if I give some background, so here’s where we begin:

Reed was disgnosed with a unilateral hearing loss at birth. He passed his newborn hearing screening on his left side, but failed on his right. We were assured that many kids fail because of amniotic fluid trapped in the ears and go on to pass subsequent tests. We made our appointment with the hospital-recommended audiologist and set about enjoying our new bundle. A few days later, we packed him up in the car and headed back to the hospital to have him rechecked, confident that everything would be fine by now. After all, birth defects are something that happen to other people’s children, right? And long before he was born I was a deaf education major, for crying out loud! The odds of having a hearing impaired child would have to be astronomical, right? Wrong, apparently. Reed once again passed on the left and failed on the right. Still hopeful, we asked what the chances were that the results were still caused by fluid and were told it was extremely unlikely. There was no evidence of fluid in his ears and his tympanograms were normal. We were scheduled to return for an ABR to determine his actual level of hearing. We returned twice for the ABR, and both times he steadfastly refused to sleep through the test (have you ever seen a 1 week old newborn stay awake for 2 hours, despite being nursed and rocked twice? It’s not a pretty sight). So at 5 weeks old, we returned once again to have him tested under sedation. The results were not what we’d hoped for: a profound unilateral sensorineural loss. We discussed his prognosis with the audiologist who told us that he would do just fine with the hearing on his left side. We asked about hearing aids and cochlear implants. He was not a candidate for either. Hearing aids just make the sound louder so it can be picked up by less-sensitive hearing. Reed has no usable hearing on that side. Cochlear implants are not an option for those with a unilateral loss. He mentioned the possibility of a CROS aid, but said in his experience they were not largely helpful and most kids were unhappy wearing them. He recommended waiting until he reached school age and letting him help make the decision. And so we waited.

We came in once or twice a year for audiograms, and were pleased to see no change. His hearing is completely stable for now. And so we waited some more, unhappy with the choice of CROS aids or nothing. Periodically, I’d ask Reed if he was bothered by his hearing loss, and he never seemed to care. Finally, in January 2009, after an annual audiogram at school, he admitted that he wished he could hear bilaterally. I explained about the CROS aids, and he seemed interested so I made an appointment with his ENT.

While researching CROS aids, I stumbled across a mention of the BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid) for Single Sided Deafness. I was intrigued. Nearly everywhere I turned for information on it gave glowing testimonials from people who had and loved it. The same could not be said for the CROS aids. This seemed to be just what we were looking for. I think I may have driven everyone I know a little crazy, talking about it so much while waiting for his appointment.

So now you’re up to speed. Stay tuned for the results of today’s ENT appt.


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