A child cannot fully develop if he has difficulty hearing. With hearing loss, speech suffers, psychomotor development may be inhibited. KP tells how to choose a hearing aid for a child
Choosing the right hearing aid for a child with hearing loss is an important step in ensuring their full development. Modern technologies make it possible to choose convenient and functional devices that will be almost invisible to others and will return the child to a full opportunity to hear speech and surrounding sounds.
Types and types of hearing aids
In the case of children you can not save and buy inexpensive devices that are classified as hearing amplifiers. Unlike a hearing aid, they only amplify the sound of the signal, do not suppress noise and can do more harm than good, especially if this is a baby of the first years of life.
That’s why the purchase of the device is carried out only in specialized centersa complete hearing test is carried out first, and after selecting the device, it must be adjusted to the individual needs of the audiologist.
Amplifiers in hearing aids
Hearing aids are sound amplifiers placed in a plastic case. The microphone of the device perceives various sounds that are in the environment and converts them into electrical signals transmitted to the amplifier of the device. The main function of the amplifier is to increase the volume of perceived sounds, to make them clear and understandable for perception.
There are two types of amplifiers:
Linear — it amplifies various sounds at approximately the same level;
non-linear — sounds that are weak, poorly perceived by a hearing-impaired child are amplified, and loud sounds can be suppressed so that they are comfortable for the ear. The change in sound intensity is controlled by a system equipped with a compressor.
The amplified signals are converted into sounds through the loudspeaker and transmitted to the auditory canal. For older children who can control the device themselves, there are devices with volume control — it can be reduced or increased by means of a handle or lever, remote control. For babies, the device itself must adjust the volume of signals depending on environmental conditions.
signal processing method
There are three types of hearing aids based on the way sound is processed. The choice of them is determined by hearing loss, age and family capabilities.
Based on the way sound is processed, we divide hearing aids into three main types. The choice of device depends on the type of hearing loss, the age of the child, and the needs of the family.
Analog Devices. These are the most inexpensive and simple devices that change the sound waves that enter the microphone into a continuous electrical impulse, in which a different voltage level, respectively, will be a sound of different intensity and frequency. Analog sounds are processed minimally, so the sound quality is distorted and lost. The device has a microphone, an amplifier, controls (volume) and a headset that transmits sound to the ear.
Programmable analogue instrument. This is a more advanced device that partially processes the signal and has the ability to choose the sound strength according to the situation.
digital instrument. Due to the microcomputer, the sounds are processed, the volume and timbres are preserved, unnecessary noise is suppressed, the clarity and intelligibility of the transmitted signals is increased. These devices give the most accurate sound quality and allow children to hear almost like in natural conditions.
Good to know
What are the best hearing aids for adults?
According to the method of fixation
No less important is the method of fixing the device in the ear area. This is important so that the child is comfortable, and the device perceives the surrounding sounds as much as possible and transmits them to the auditory canal.
Deep in-ear hearing aids, CIC-devices (from the English Completely-In-the-ear-Canal) are the smallest of the devices. They are completely located inside the auditory canal, and are almost invisible from the outside. They can only be used in older children and adolescents, as the width of the channel must be sufficient to accommodate the device. Each ear will have its own device, selected with the features of the anatomy.
in-ear hearing aids, ITC-devices (from the English In-The-ear-Canal). These devices are larger than the previous ones, they are easier to use. They are suitable for children with mild to moderate hearing loss. The case is selected individually and separately for each ear.
in-the-ear hearing aids, ITE devices (from English In-The-Ear). Larger, provide high quality sound, will help with all ranges of hearing loss. They are easy to use, are selected individually for the right and left ear.
behind the ear hearing aids, BTE-devices (from the English Behind-the-Ear). The body of the device is located behind the ear and is passed into the ear canal through a tube, at the end of which there is an individually selected insert. These devices are especially recommended for children.
Behind-the-ear hearing aids with earmould connection cable, RITE-devices (from the English Receiver-In-The-Ear). The most modern behind-the-ear devices, instead of a tube, they have a thin wire connected to an earmold in the ear canal.
A step-by-step guide to choosing a hearing aid
Before purchasing a hearing aid for a child, there are many different factors to consider. The choice of a specific type of hearing aid depends on the severity of the pathology, the personal preferences of the child and his parents. The most key factors that determine the type of device:
degree of hearing loss and variant (unilateral or bilateral deafness);
anatomical features of the ear (some types of devices simply do not fit in children’s ears);
the age of the child, his skills and needs, abilities.
appearance, aesthetic characteristics;
One of the most important considerations when choosing a hearing aid is the age of the patient. Children under the age of six need a device with one mode of perception, which is programmed individually. This helps to quickly get used to the perception of sound stimuli. Such a device helps in teaching speech recognition, learning to read and pronounce all sounds.
Older children need hearing aids with different settings. They need adaptive devices to different sound situations. It helps in vocational training and socialization.
Indications for the use of a hearing aid. Doctor’s advice
We discussed the issues of choosing and wearing hearing aids for children with Vera Shinkarenko, otorhinolaryngologist, audiologist at JSC “Medicina” (Clinic of Academician Roitberg), member of ISA (International Society of Audiology).
Do children with hearing loss need to wear hearing aids?
If a child has deafness, then starting from the second degree, he must wear a hearing aid. If the hearing loss is bilateral, two hearing aids. The hearing aid will help the child form the correct speech, develop, learn for further professional suitability and social adaptation in society.
Hearing aids are essential for children’s intellectual development. In addition to the fact that children with hearing loss need to sit at the first desk at school, they need to wear a hearing aid at all times. The type of hearing aid depends on the diagnosis of the child and is selected by the hearing care professional. His choice will be related to the type of tone audiogram, as well as the condition of the outer, middle and inner ear on both sides of the small patient. Typically, a hearing aid is attached to the child’s ear that hears best, so that the child’s brain can receive the correct signal.
Are all types of devices suitable for children?
The choice of hearing aid depends on various factors. For example, if conductive hearing loss is accompanied by inflammatory processes in the outer or middle ear, the child will not be prescribed a behind-the-ear device, or a pocket device (which is even less common), which will cover the entire ear.
Most likely, in this case, he will be assigned a different type of apparatus, for example, a bone one, which, in turn, is also divided into implantable (attached to the bone and applied to the heart-shaped process behind the ear) and non-implantable (attached to the tape). This type of hearing aids perceives all sound vibrations, turns them into electrical ones and then sends these signals to the brain — the child, like the rest of his peers, hears everything well, he becomes a learner, his speech develops. All children with hearing loss must wear hearing aids.
If there is no such assistant with this diagnosis, the risk of developing mental retardation in a child, developmental delays is very high.
Hearing Aid or Hearing Amplifier: Which is Best for Children?
Doctors are categorically against any amplifiershearing for children with hearing loss. Unlike hearing aids, which adjust the frequency of perception of sound according to the condition of each ear, sound amplifiers transmit sounds to the brain at the same high or low frequency as for the outer, middle and inner ear, ignoring the hearing thresholds of a particular patient.
Only a hearing aid is capable of digitizing these thresholds and building the required level, according to the tone audiogram readings. It is important to understand that our auditory organ is very delicate and sensitive, which is easily damaged by acoustic trauma, tobacco, certain types of drugs, including exposure to uniform frequencies. Amplifiers do not help the child to hear, and can even harm him. As a rule, sound amplifiers can be used by people at a very mature age, who have already formed speech, they do not need to be engaged in labor activities.
Where should I buy a hearing aid for my child?
Hearing aids can be bought online and in specialty stores and even on Ali Express. As a rule, when choosing a hearing aid on their own, the patient will still have to contact a hearing prosthetist to set it up, which cannot be done on their own — adjust the power, volume, frequency.
Before buying, it is better to consult a specialist for advice. Selecting hearing aids on your own is unwise and can be a waste of money, especially if the research data specialist realizes that the hearing aid is not suitable for the patient’s indications and type of hearing loss.
The level of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss can only be determined by a doctor using special equipment. If relatives believe that the child has become hard of hearing or they themselves need to turn up the volume on the TV, they should consult a doctor who will determine the problem and select the best solution for it. Like any medical product, each hearing aid must have a certificate and quality assurance.