by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A mother asked:
Do you or don’t you restrict your child’s activities due to their LVAS (Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome)?
When my daughter (almost 12) was diagnosed with unilateral LVAS at age 8, the ENT said to avoid loud music (to protect her normal ear), scuba diving, and head trauma.
I have found information saying kids should avoid diving (which my daughter does and enjoys), roller coasters (which my daughter has ridden and loves), doing “headers” in soccer (which she practiced at a recent soccer clinic), contact sports like basketball (which she played for the past 3 years), and playing the trumpet (which she is supposed to start next fall). She is very active.
I am questioning whether I should try to convince her to change the instrument she has selected to play in band next fall. We had a band night where they could try all the instruments, which she did, and she loved the trumpet. The teacher said she was a natural and had done better than any incoming 6th graders he’d heard that night. So naturally we signed her up to play trumpet. But I don’t want to put her hearing at risk either.
Also I’m wanting to know if I should stop her from diving off the diving board this summer, not sign her up to play soccer next fall, and limit her at Six Flags to only non-roller coaster rides. On the other hand, she’s done these activities in the past, and her hearing in her LVAS ear has remained pretty stable. I would hate to limit activities she really enjoys.
You are not alone in trying to determine which activities your LVAS child should or should not do. Many parents of children with Large (or Enlarged) Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome (LVAS/EVAS) often agonize over this very question.
Fortunately, if a child has a history of LVAS for a few years such as your daughter has, the question is relatively easy to answer—no matter what the doctor gives as guidelines. Let me explain.
All of the above activities have the potential to cause hearing loss in people with LVAS. But just because there is the potential doesn’t mean it will happen. You have to consider each child on a case by case basis.
Since your daughter has been doing a number of these activities for some time, all you have to do is ask yourself, “In the past few years, have any of these activities caused more hearing loss or balance problems in my daughter?” If the answer is “no”, then let her continue to do these (and related kinds of activities), because obviously her ears are not sensitive to these kinds of activities.
However, if your daughter lost more hearing or had balance problems each time she did one of the above, then obviously these activities are not the right ones for her, and you should restrict her to those activities that have not caused hearing loss/balance problems in the past.
In your daughter’s case, you’ve answered your own question. These activities haven’t bothered her in the past, so let her do them in the future—unless you subsequently find that they really are damaging her ears.