Down Syndrome Difficulties

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Due to the nature of the condition, individuals with Down syndrome face tremendous difficulties with hearing. Down syndrome occurs due to an extra copy of the twenty-first chromosome causing intellectual and developmental delays as well as abnormal physical characteristics. The etiology of this disorder is genetic due to the addition of the extra chromosome, however causes of this additional chromosome are unknown. Down syndrome affects both sexes and is present from birth. With the highly complex nature of the hearing process, the physical characteristics of individuals with Down syndrome cause many challenges associated with the hearing process. The following paper will discuss specifically the difficulties individuals with Down syndrome …show more content…
This is due to the presence of significantly smaller ear canals, excessive production of earwax and higher incidences of otitis media, which is the inflammation and infection of the middle ear, causing the buildup of pressure and a disruption in hearing. Glue ear is also a common occurrence, particularly in children with Down syndrome. Glue ear is caused by the ineffective drainage of the middle ear due to the narrow pathway in the eustachian tubes. The additional fluids prevent the ossicles from vibrating effectively, thereby causing restriction of sound vibrations to the inner ear (Sacks, Woods 2003). Individuals with Down Syndrome experience low muscle tone, which also affects the opening and closing of the eustachian tube. This can cause negative pressure to build up in the middle ear space, leading to fluid retention and infection. Due to these problems with the ear, Down syndrome individuals commonly have a mild to moderate conductive hearing loss. It has been reported that by the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention that up to 75% of individuals with Down Syndrome will have some form of hearing …show more content…
Typically, two main rehabilitation strategies are implemented based on the severity and cause of the hearing loss, grommets and hearing aids. Due to the high prevalence of glue ear and small ear canals, drainage of the middle ear becomes difficult. One way to combat this is through surgical intervention, installing ventilation tubes know as grommets. In this procedure, a small hole is punctured in the ear drum, causing access fluid to drain out. A grommets is then installed in order to help the drainage of the middle ear and maintain pressure in the cavity. Unfortunately, due to the frequency of glue ear in individuals with Down syndrome, this may only be a temporary solution, as the grommet itself may become blocked after a period of time. Also, some ear canals are so narrow, that installation of these grommets becomes impossible. In this situation, a hearing aid would be

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