How Speech Development and Allergies are Connected

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Girl Blowing Nose into Tissue

We are all familiar with the pain, fatigue and discomfort an allergy flare-up brings. The constant tickle in the back of your throat, itchy eyes every time you step outside, nasal congestion and the all-day pressure of a sinus headache are tough for adults to handle, but can be unbearable for children. On top of all these symptoms, allergies can negatively impact your child’s speech and hearing development. Here are connections between speech and hearing development issues and childhood allergies.

Congestion from allergies can lead children to breathe through their mouths. Over time, this can cause a condition called Tongue Thrust, where the tongue sits lower in the child’s mouth to allow for better air flow. This lowered position causes the tongue to stick out of the mouth which can lead to speech problems. When allergies lead to Tongue Thrust, many children have problems pronouncing “ch,” “sh,” “s,” “z,” and “j” sounds, which can cause the need for speech therapy or orthodontic apparatuses. If Tongue Thrust continues for an extended period, it can also shift children’s teeth, which can create the need for orthodontic correction in adolescence.

Inflammation of the throat and sinuses due to allergies can also affect children’s speech by making proper pronunciation difficult. When allergies block the sinuses and agitate the throat, it can make sounds such as nasal consonants found in words like ‘nose’ and ‘mouth’ impossible to pronounce. Over time, if allergies continue, these speech troubles can become a habit even when allergy congestion isn’t causing mouth breathing.

Regarding hearing, allergies increase the risk of ear infections due to congestion. Our ears drain through our sinuses, but when allergy congestion blocks these passages, our ears can’t drain properly. This can cause the ears’ Eustachian tubes to clog, which reduces children’s hearing and causes pain and pressure. This hearing loss can affect their educational development as they struggle to hear lessons in classes and at home.

Allergy-related hearing loss can further contribute to speech troubles as it prevents children from picking up higher pitched or quiet nuances when learning new words. This allergy-induced hearing loss can lead them to learn words incorrectly making them harder for others to understand. For example, think of the subtle difference between “d” and “t” sounds in the middle of words like “bitter” and “bidder.”

Childhood allergy-related speech and hearing troubles can require corrective therapy and treatment if symptoms go untreated. If your child suffers from allergies, don’t wait until their symptoms affect their speech and hearing, come see us to prevent these problems before they start. Dr. Pasha treats allergies at their source rather than managing the symptoms. The process begins with an allergy test to determine the source of your child’s allergies before working with your family to determine the best treatment options. Make an appointment with Dr. Pasha today.