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Kirsty asked...

Undiagnosed glue ear

My 5 year old son had undiagnosed glue ear and enlarged adenoids for circa 2 years. His hearing was down to 20% when he finally obtained a diagnosis and had an adenoidectomy and grommet insertion in January 2015. Prior to surgery, and even now, he seems to have the need to touch and lick anything that is 'new' to him. He also continues to be unable to concentrate for any length of time and lacks focus when there is a lot of distractions. He has some issues with prolonged periods of anaemia and is currently being investigated for coeliacs disease. I wonder if the licking, touching, and sometimes overly tactile behaviour (with people he adores), is as a result of his senses having to compensate for a prolonged period with little hearing or something else?

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The answer

It is not unusual for a 5 year old to be affectionate and tactile with people they know well and is not unusual for a child of this age to be easily distracted. You have not mentioned if the hearing loss was in one or both ears.

If both he should have been referred for regular hearing checks post-surgery to ensure hearing returned to normal or if any ongoing issue that it was regularly monitored. Hearing loss in children is often difficult to assess as they can compensate well, using other senses, they often learn to lip read well and are more sensitive to touch, smells and visual prompts.

Licking and mouthing are not usually part of this, and may need to consider other potential issues such as a Sensory Processing Disorder where there is poor tactile perception and discrimination or hyposensitive to touch may be a problem, for diagnosis it is usually via your paediatrician, who may also refer to an occupational therapist, psychologist referral may also be considered if this is becoming an issue. Happy to see that your doctor is looking into the anaemia issue as this is unusual issue in a child and usually will try to rule out malabsorption problems such as coeliac’s disease at an early stage.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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