Navigating Your Way Through Common Women's Health Issues

Use of Hearing Aids in Children

It is common knowledge that hearing loss is part of the natural ageing process, and it tends to get worse as you get older. It may also occur as a result of an illness, accident or exposure to certain drugs, but what many people are not aware of is that hearing loss is not restricted to the elderly or the afflicted.

Hearing loss represents a significant health and educational problem in children. According to the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, one Australian child is diagnosed with hearing impairment every day. Some children are even born with moderate or severe hearing loss in one or both ears.

Middle ear infection is a common affliction in children. Although it is easy to treat, hearing loss is a possible complication later in childhood, especially if the infection is not promptly treated. Affected children may face learning difficulties, with adverse consequences on language development and behaviour.

A child suspected of having hearing deficit should be referred to a paediatric audiologist by the family doctor. A paediatric audiologist is a health care professional who specialises in treating hearing loss in children. The paediatric audiologist will establish if the child has hearing loss and determine if the child will benefit from the use of hearing aids, depending on the type and severity of the hearing loss. 

When a child is diagnosed with hearing loss that is amenable to hearing aids, the first step towards good hearing health and enhanced development of spoken language is to have the child fitted with hearing aids. A hearing aid is a piece of electronic device which amplifies sounds so that persons with hearing loss can listen and communicate meaningfully with other people and carry on their daily activities without hindrance.

The device is particularly helpful in children because consistent sound input at a time the brain of the child is undergoing rapid growth is important for the development of speech and cognitive functions. Besides, consistent hearing is required for bonding and building trust between children and their parents during the formative years.

The typical hearing aid for a child is the behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing device that delivers sound to the ear trough a plastic earmold which is attached to the outer ear. The audiologist orders a perfectly fitting hearing aid for each ear after taking a perfect impression of the external canal of each ear. Earmolds for both ears can be ordered in two different colours to enable parents determine which earmold fits which ear. Earmolds can be replaced with appropriately sized ones as the child grows bigger without having to replace the actual hearing aid.