Questions about Hearing

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What does my child’s hearing loss mean?

There are many kinds of hearing loss s hearing loss may mean different things f or different children. Hearing loss can be a temporary sound conduction problem caused by a blockage in the outer or middle ear (i.e. middle ear fluid) or permanent sensory damage caused by a specific, or sometimes unknown, reason. A hearing loss may even be a combination of permanent and additional temporary components. How your child’s hearing loss will affect his or her language development depends on man y factors. If the hearing loss can be corrected (i.e. middle ear fluid), prompt medical treatment is the most important factor. If the hearing loss is permanent, the sooner the loss can be identified and intervention started, the better the opportunity for your child’s language development. In all instances, the active involvement of parents and other caregivers in early intervention plays a critical role in development. Topic Card #2 has more information on types and causes of hear ing loss and Topic Card #11 has m ore in formation o n middle ear problems.

Will my child’s hearing get better?

Improvement depends on the cause of the hearing loss. If the loss is due to a medical problem, such as middle ear fluid, it can improve and may fluctuate with the re-occurrence of the problem. If the loss is due to sensory (inner ear or cochlear) or nerve damage, it will not imp rove. The observed auditory response of children with Auditory Neuropathy / Auditory Dyssynchrony may vary over time. The exact mechanism is not well understood at this time.

How do I know what kind of hearing aids to get for my child?

The audiologist is the professional who recommends the type f hearing aid that will be best for your child. Hearing aids worn behind the ear are most commonly recommended for children. The technology of hearing aids will vary. Your audiologist can explain the different kinds of hearing aid circuitry such as digital, programmable and adaptive, and can recommend the aids that are best for your child’s type of hearing loss. Topic Card #3 has more information on hearing aids.

My child seems to hear without his or her hearing aids… why does the audiologist recommend wearing hearing aids?

If your child has a mild, moderate or severe hearing loss, there are sounds that he or she can hear. With some levels of hearing loss, your child may hear or be aware when people are talking. With milder loss, your child may even understand some spoken words without hearing aids. Because of the sounds that he or she does hear, your child may turn when you call his or her name and may perhaps learn some words. This can make it very tempting to believe that hearing aids are not necessary. However, when the hearing system works as it should, a person can hear very soft sounds that vary in frequency (pitch) from extremely low frequency to extremely high frequency. If the audiologist has recommended hearing aids, it i s because there are some important sounds your child is unable to hear without hearing aids. For a child who is learning language through hearing, the ability to hear all these sounds at soft levels is important for brain development and for l earning complex language and developing clear speech. Young children also learn from language and conversation going on around them and any amount of hearing loss will cut down on these opportunities. Listening and learning during the infant, toddler, and preschool years are your child’s best possible preparation for school and later academic learning.

What is a cochlear implant and where do I get more information?

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that stimulates nerve endings in the inner ear (cochlea) to receive and process sound. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pro vides certain guidelines for cochlear implant candidates. Your audiologist or parent advisor can provide you with additional information on cochlear implants. Topic Card #5 has more information on cochlear implants.

How do I check my child’s hearing aids to be sure they are working?

Your audiologist will show you how to care for and check your child’s hearing aids. Your deaf education parent advisor will also help you learn to take care of t he hearing aids. The use of a listening stethoscope and battery tester can be very helpful to ensure a hearing aid is working properly. There are many other accessories available to help keep your child’s hearing aids working well such as dehumidifiers and wax-cleaning tools. Your audiologist will discuss which ones would be appropriate and help you locate such items. Topic Card #4 has more information on tips for infant hearing aid use.

How do I check my child’s cochlear implant to be sure it’s working?

No one except the user of the cochlear implant can tell by listening through the de vice if it’s working. Children even at a very young age can be taught a simple listening activity called the Ling 6 sound test that can help you know if the implant is working. In addition, each type of cochlear implant has a troubleshooting process that is useful in helping you know if the implant is working or if there may be a problem. Your audiologist, cochlear implant center, or parent advisor can help you learn these skills.

My child keeps taking the hearing aids/cochlear implant off. How can I keep them on my child?

Children will become curious or want to remove hearing aids or implants because they can, because it’s a good game, or because it gets such a good response from caregivers. Covering up the hearing aid or implant with a hair band or hat and finding ways to distract your child with favorite toys may work. Teach your child the hearing aid or implant must be left on, just as you teach him o r her not to touch breakables. Try not to let it become a “power struggle” between you and your child. As your child gets older, help him or her learn that if t here is a problem with the hearing aids or implant or they need to be taken off for any reason, your child should come to you and let you remove or check the device. To prevent loss, the best strategy is to attach the hearing aids or implant to the child’s clothing by use of a string and clip. There are several types of anchoring devices that your audiologist or parent advisor can tell you about.

My child’s hearing aids are always buzzing/squealing. What causes this?

The squealing noise is called feedback. It can be caused by an earmold that isn’t in the ear correctly, by an earmold that is too small, by a crack in the tube that goes between the earmold and the hearing aid, or by an actual malfunction of the hearing aid.

How do I make the feedback stop?

Try pushing on o r reinsert ing the earmold. I f this does not take care of the problem, contact y our audiologist to determine what the actual cause is and what needs to be done. Your parent advisor can also help you learn some basic troubleshooting procedures to deter mine the reason for the feedback. Don’t turn down the volume on the hearing aids lower than the recommended setting as a solution. This may stop the feedback, but your child will not be able to hear.

How long do hearing aid batteries last and where can I purchase them?

Hearing aid batteries last approximately one to two weeks depending on the type of hearing aid and how long your child wears it each day. Batteries can be purchased at local drug stores, your audiology or hearing aid clinic, and grocery stores. The best prices may be found in large, one-stop-shopping stores.

How long do cochlear implant batteries last and where can I purchase them?

Battery life for cochlear implants varies among manufacturers, users, MAPs (individual implant processor program), and battery type. Batteries can last from four hours to four days. There are rechargeable as well as disposable batteries available for the different implants. Batteries can be purchased from the implant company or from your cochlear implant audiologist.

Where can I send old, outgrown, unused and broken hearing aid(s)?

There are many nonprofit organizations that accept old hearing aids. The aids are re-conditioned and sold at a discounted fee to people needing financial assistance. You can also donate them to your local audiology or hearing aid dispensing clinic, which may provide a similar service.