Hearing Aids for ChildrenIf your child has hearing loss, hearing aids may help him or her hear more easily. Hearing plays an important role in your child's development. Hearing helps your child learn to speak, understand language, and communicate with others.
Hearing and your child
When someone has hearing loss, sound still enters the ear. But the sound signals may be weak or distorted by the time they enter the brain. Hearing aids can help by making these signals louder. As a result, signals traveling to the brain are easier to understand. Work with your child's audiologist to choose the best hearing aids for your child. You will learn how hearing aids are used and how to care for them.
How hearing aids work
Hearing aids have a microphone to pick up sound and a digital processor or amplifier to make sound louder. Amplified sound travels through a tube into a fitted earmold in your child's ear. With behind-the-ear (BTE) style hearing aids, the microphone and amplifier are kept in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear. Children most commonly wear these BTE hearing aids.
Behind-the-ear hearing aids
Hearing aids come in several styles. But for children, the BTE aids are most appropriate. This is because BTE aids are easier to fit for a child's growing ears than other hearing aids. Also, hearing aids and plastic earmolds come in many colors such as skin tones or bright colors. Talk to your child's audiologist about any questions or concerns you have about BTE aids.
Helping children use hearing aids
Children often can't put in or take out their hearing aids. Instead, adults must help take care of the hearing aids until children can do it themselves. Care of hearing aids involves cleaning out any earwax, changing the batteries, and doing listening checks. Your child's audiologist will show you how to care for your child's hearing aids. Also, keep in mind that the earmolds or entire hearing aids may need to be refit or remade as your child grows. Changes in his or her hearing will also require that hearing aids be adjusted or replaced.
Beware of batteries
Keep small hearing aid batteries away from children. These button-like batteries can easily be put in the ears, nose, or mouth. If they become stuck or swallowed, acid from the battery can leak out and burn the inside of the ears, nose, throat, or stomach. So be sure to properly store and dispose of hearing aid batteries. If a battery is ingested, you can obtain more information by calling the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 or by calling the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Paying for hearing aids
Public or government programs may cover the cost of hearing aids. For instance, Medicaid can give assistance to financially qualified families. If you are worried about how you will pay for your child's hearing aids, talk to your child's health care team. They can help point you in the right direction. NOTE: Hearing aids should never be purchased over the Internet or through mail order.
Online resources you may find helpful include:
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- American Academy of Audiology
- Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Hands & Voices
- John Tracy Clinic