Understanding What It Means If Your Child Has a Congenital Abnormality of the Ear

Hypernasal speech treatment

You always hope that your child will be born perfectly healthy, sound of body and sound of mind, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Luckily, in today’s modern world, there are so many ways to help give a child a wonderful quality of life with the right medical procedures and technology. If your child, for example, is born with congenital abnormalities of the ear — which can span a few different conditions — there are ways to treat these issues and give your child a normal, happy life. If you’re worried that your child will experience hearing loss or chronic ear problems, it’s always a good idea to get congenital abnormalities of the ear checked out by a pediatric ear, nose, and throat doctor. Ear nose and throat problems in children and adolescents tend to be more specialized, so it’s important to seek treatment early.

How Do Congenital Abnormalities of the Ear Happen?
Congenital abnormalities are a fancy way of saying “birth defect.” Birth defects that are mainly structural deformities are labeled “congenital.” There are many reasons that a congenital disorder can happen. Some reasons are no one’s fault — the abnormality simply is, with no reasons for it to occur, or a prenatal infection takes root. Some congenital disorders are because of chromosomal issues, like mutation, or simply genetic.

Other congenital disorders happen because the mother abused drugs while pregnant or was exposed to less than ideal environmental factors, thereby exposing the fetus to these conditions. And in some cases, a congenital disorder can happen because of an error in medical treatment or examination.

A congenital abnormality of the ear can stem from any of these things and testing or examination after the child is born can often reveal what went wrong.

What Types of Congenital Ear Abnormalities Are There?
There are three main types of abnormalities — microtia (or “small ear”), prominent ears, and lop or cupped ears. With microtia, the inner ear is normal, but all or part of the outer ear is missing — this can even include the opening. Children often have a hard time distinguishing sound and direction or may have no hearing at all.

In the case of prominent ears, the child often doesn’t have medical issues, but can be damaging to self-esteem or the child’s perception of him or herself. It can also be difficult to fit them properly for glasses or other things that rest on the ears.

With lop or cupped ears, the inner ear can often be affected, as the rim of the ear is constricted. A severe case of lop or cupped ears have almost tube like ears and the disruption to the inner ear can affect hearing.

Obviously none of these abnormalities generally fall under common ENT problems (ear, nose, and throat problems), but can lead to chronic ear problems, so it’s always wise to seek out a specialist to see what can be done.

Who Can Help Treat My Child?

In the case of microtia or prominent ears, you’ll need to seek the help of surgeons who specialize in this type of treatment. There’s only a handful of specialists who work at these centers. However, your first step will probably be to visit a pediatric ear, nose, and throat doctor who can make the initial assessment and refer you on if necessary. They’ll probably also be in charge of monitoring your child’s ear, nose, and throat health as he or she grows, keeping a sharp eye out for anything that might be related to the initial abnormality.

For example, chronic ear infections, facial deformities,and crooked teeth can often be a result of congenital abnormalities of the ear, and it’s something that your ear, nose, and throat doctor will definitely want to keep an eye on as your child grows.

If your child is born with a congenital abnormality of the ear, or develops cholesteatoma and other chronic ear problems, take a deep breath and rest assured that in most cases, these things can be treated and your child will go on to lead a happy, healthy, and successful life.