Treating Your Child's Hearing Loss:
When your child is diagnosed with hearing loss, you naturally have lots of questions. You may be surprised, confused, anxious-or all of the above. Our goal is to provide you with a starting place in regards to amplification options. Carolina Hearing Associates is committed to providing comprehensive hearing help to you and your child.
Hearing Aid Selection
For most children with hearing loss in both ears binaural hearing aids are recommended. A binaural hearing aid system consists of two complete hearing aids, each with its own separate microphone, amplifier and receiver. Binaural (two) hearing aids provide more benefit than a monaural (one-ear) fitting. Two hearing aids provide more natural "balanced" hearing, improved localization of sounds, improved sense of distance from the sound source, and improved understanding in noise.
Hearing aids amplify sound, allowing those with hearing loss to hear the many sounds around them. All hearing aids are powered with a battery. A small microphone picks up sound from the environment; the amplifier changes the sound into an electric signal and makes the sound louder; and the receiver changes the amplified signal back to sound waves that enter the ear.
Hearing aids are available in a wide range of different styles. The appropriate style of hearing aid depends on your child's age as well as his/her degree and type of hearing loss. For younger children, it is preferable to select a behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid due to its ability to change the ear mold as the child's ear grows.
The earmold is the replaceable part of the BTE hearing aid. The earmold holds the hearing aid in place and ensures that sound is properly presented into the ear canal. A loose earmold may cause the hearing aid to whistle, also known as feedback. The earmold should be replaced whenever feedback becomes a consistent problem. Because children grow rapidly, earmolds need to be remade to fit the ear as it grows. For infants, new earmolds may be required every month; with young children, new earmolds may be required every 3-6 months; older children may require new earmolds every 6-12 months.
When Hearing Aids Are Not Enough
There are many times when a child with a hearing loss, even with hearing aids, may have difficulty understanding speech. Problems may arise due to distance, the presence of background noise, or reverberation (echoes). There are also times when hearing aids will not be worn, yet children should be able to identify and respond to familiar environmental sounds. Assistive listening and alerting devices were designed to help solve these problems. They can help ensure safety, teach independence, and for older children, maintain privacy.
FM system Consists of a transmitter with a microphone that broadcasts directly to a receiver connected to the child's hearing aids. This system helps to overcome the effects of listening at a distance, or in the presence of background noise or reverberation (echoes). It is especially useful in the classroom or other noisy situations. Note other receiver options are available for children who do not wear hearing aids, but could benefit from an FM system.
Amplified telephone handsets have a volume control that allow the user to increase the volume of the speaker.
Flashing Lights can be used around the house to alert individuals to a variety of environmental sounds including: telephones and doorbells, alarm clocks, and fire/smoke alarms.
Doorbells and telephones can also be equipped with extra loud ringers that make them easier to hear.
Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD/TTY) is a special phone used by some deaf people that works like a computer and transmits typed messages as electronic signals over the telephone to another TDD. Users type back and forth to one another. Both parties need to have a TDD/TTY. Note a relay service can be used for an individual utilizing TDD to speak with someone who is not TDD equipped.
Closed Captions: Television sets manufactured in the United States after July 1993 are required to have a computer chip that allows the words of captioned TV programming to appear on screen. TV sets made before this time must be attached to a decoder box in order to reveal TV captions. In addition to helping a child understand TV, the use of closed captions can improve reading skills.
Osseointegrated Hearing Implants
These auditory implants utilize direct bone conduction, which allows the bone to transfer sound to a functioning cochlea-thereby bypassing the middle ear. The system combines a sound processor with an abutment and a small titanium implant. The implant is placed behind the non-functioning ear. Surgery is minor, and recipients report a wide range of advantages over other hearing devices. This unique hearing treatment was cleared by the FDA in 1996 as a treatment for conductive and mixed hearing loss. And since 2002, the device has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of unilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Two models are currently on the market: Cochlear's Baha and Oticon Medical's Ponto.
A cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. There are a number of factors that determine the degree of success to expect from the operation and the device itself. Cochlear implant centers determine implant candidacy on an individual basis and take into account a person's hearing history, cause of hearing loss, amount of residual hearing, speech recognition ability, health status, and family commitment to aural habilitation/rehabilitation. Currently, the three cochlear implant devices approved for use in the U.S. are manufactured by Cochlear Limited, MED-EL and Advanced Bionics.