Hearing aids: an introduction
What are the best hearing aids?
The ones that are right for your child. There are many different makes and models of hearing aids to suit all types of hearing loss. The experts will prescribe the most suitable one for your child and show you how to fit it and look after it. Your child’s teacher of the deaf will continue to help.
What is a ‘post-aural’?
Personal hearing aids are either:
- Body-worn — worn on the chest
- Post-aural — worn behind the ear
- In-the-ear — worn in the ear
All three types of hearing aid basically do the same job they amplify i.e. make louder, the sounds your child listens to.
But they have different capabilities and so sometimes one type of aid is more suitable than another for a particular child because they provide better amplification for him. Many parents think an in-the-ear aid must be the best because it does not draw attention to the child’s deafness. But in-the-ear aids are not suitable for all children and it should be no more embarrassing to wear a hearing aid than to wear glasses.
What are ‘the settings’?
The most familiar setting is the volume control which is usually on the outside of the aids. You will be told what the best volume setting is and you should keep it at that normally. A louder setting can cause distortion which gets in the way of the child understanding what he hears.
There are other internal controls which make fine adjustments to the aids for your child’s particular type of loss. The settings may be different even between the child’s two ears. It is a good idea to ask to be shown the internal setting controls. Make sure you know what the right settings are (your child’s teacher of the deaf will tell you) and how to check them but, under normal circumstances, don’t fiddle with them. If the aids go to the manufacturers for repair, the settings will have to be altered for testing. Make sure that your audiologist or teacher of the deaf has reset them before they are returned to you.
What is a Radio aid?
A Radio Aid is an extra help in certain circumstances. They come in two parts, a transmitter which is worn by the person speaking and a receiver which is plugged into the child’s existing personal hearing aids. Some body-worn aids, for example, a Phonic Ear, have a built in radio aid.
Radio aids are useful in situations where there is background noise or where your child is a long way away from the person speaking to him, as will often be the case in a classroom or nursery group. They mean that he hears the important voice but will not be distracted by other noises.
How often should we change the earmould?
The earmould is the part that fits into the child’s ear which is then linked by a tube to the rest of the hearing aids. It is important that the moulds fit comfortably not only so that lie will be happy wearing his aids but in order for the aids to do their job properly. The faster the child is growing the more frequently the earmoulds must be changed. With a young child this can mean once a month.
Do earmoulds hurt the ear?
No. Putting in earmoulds cannot hurt the ear and it is perfectly safe to wear an earmould all day. Don’t worry if there is some wax on the moulds just wearing them makes the ear produce wax.
It is important to keep earmoulds clean and as free from wax as possible to avoid sore ears and to make sure the sounds get through. Every night ear moulds should be thoroughly washed in warm, soapy water, rinsed and left to dry overnight.
Many parents prefer to use special earmould cleaning kits – your child’s teacher of the deaf can advise you.
What should I do if it whistles?
First, check that the earmoulds are in place properly and that the volume setting control on each aid is not higher than the child’s usual setting as recommended by the audiologist.
If it still whistles, you must get it checked at once. Turning the volume down may stop the whistling but it is not a solution to the problem with the aids. He will still not be able to hear properly.
If earmoulds are broken in any way new ones are needed.
Hearing Aids – Checklist
Make sure you…
- know what type of battery your child’s aids use and change them regularly.
- know what the right settings for each aid are and check them regularly: check the volume setting throughout every day.
- listen to the aids every day to make sure they are working properly
- involve your child in checking his aids so that as he grows older he can do it for himself.
- never suggest, or allow anyone else to, that hearing aids are something to be ashamed of. It’s the same as wearing glasses and no one bothers about that.