How to choose a hearing aid for a child

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How to choose a hearing aid for a child

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
How to choose a hearing aid for a child
A few tips on how to choose a hear­ing aid for your child. Pho­to: Shut­ter­stock

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.

For chil­dren, it is bet­ter to pur­chase hear­ing aids rather than hear­ing ampli­fiers. The lat­ter can do more harm than help.

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;
    sound quality.
When choos­ing a hear­ing aid, you need to con­sid­er not only the age of the child and the degree of hear­ing loss, but also the appear­ance of the device.

Child’s age

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.

tiramisu, dessert, cake
tiramisu, dessert, cake
donuts, sweets, bakery products
male, guy, people
people, face, man

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 ampli­fiers hear­ing 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.

By Yraa

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