FAQ - Hearing solutions

There is so much information when your child first gets hearing aids that it can be overwhelming. These are some questions that you might have.

Hearing aids

Why can’t my baby wear smaller hearing aids?

Behind-the-ear hearing aids are the best hearing aids for young children. Depending on your baby’s hearing loss, it may be appropriate to change hearing aids styles when your child becomes a teenager.

How long will my baby have to wear hearing aids?

Hearing aids are not a cure for hearing loss. If your child has a hearing loss and the hearing loss cannot be improved by surgery, hearing aids may be recommended. If hearing aids are recommended, your child will want to waer their hearing aids for the rest of their life as they will obtain much benefit from them that will aid in their hearing, speech and language development and other important sounds of the world.

Does my baby need to wear his/her hearing aids all day every day?

If you want your child to develop speech and language skills, your baby will need to have consistent exposure to sound. Your baby should wear the hearing aids for the time he/she wakes up until going to bed at night. Some babies prefer to wear their hearing aids even at nap time.

How do I get my baby to leave the hearing aids in his/her ears?

There are many techniques that can help keep them in place or from getting lost. These include the use of hypoallergenic two-sided tape, huggie hearing aids, and critter clips. If your baby takes his/her hearing aids out, firmly place them back in his/her ears. If your baby ‘throws a fit’, wait a few minutes before trying again. The goal is to teach your baby to listen and learn new sounds wearing the hearing aids. As long as the hearing aids have been fit properly, most children will want to wear them all day as they will otherwise feel that they are missing out. If the child consistently pulls the hearing aid out, it may be worth checking with the audiologist that there is no ear infection, or a small problem with the fitting.

What if my baby swallows a battery?

If your baby accidentally swallows a hearing aid battery, call the hospital immediately.

How often does my baby need new earmolds?

When babies are very young, the size of their ear changes quickly. Earmolds may need to be replaced every month or every few months. As your baby gets older, the time that each earmold will last becomes longer and longer. Older children may only need new earmolds every year or so.

How do I clean the hearing aids?

You should look at the earmold every day to see if it needs to be cleaned. The basic steps include removing the earmold from the hearing aid and clearing and drying the earmold before reattaching to the hearing aid. It should be removed from the hearing aid and thoroughly cleaned every week or every two weeks. On a daily basis, the hearing aid and earmold should be wiped down. It is important not to get the hearing aid part wet because it may damage the hearing aid.

How do I get funding for hearing aids?

This is best discussed with your audiologist or child’s doctor. Different countries have different laws and procedures.

Which hearing aid make/model is best?

Providing auditory stimulation at the earliest possible time is very important. Your audiologist is familiar with the “features” that a hearing aid should have for your child’s type, degree, and shape of hearing loss. Your audiologist will be able to discuss the options that meet your child’s needs.

Does my child need one or two hearing aids?

If your child has a hearing loss is both ears, two hearing aids are needed. If your child has a loss of hearing in one ear, only one hearing aid may be needed. Being able to hear from both sides is important for localization, hearing across distance, and hearing in background noise. Limiting hearing aid use to one ear if there is a loss in both ears limits your child’s ability to hear the best that they can. It also deprives the brain of the stimulation it needs to develop properly.

What is feedback and what can I do about it?

Feedback is the whistling sound that the hearing aids make. The earmold may have gotten too small or the hearing aid may not be seated in the ear properly. Occasional feedback is expected when you hug your child. It is caused by “leakage” of the amplified sound. It can also be caused from too much wax in the ear canal. Objects close to the microphone of the hearing aid can also cause it. Tell the audiologist if you are having problems with feedback.

What does it mean to “program” a hearing aid?

Hearing aids can be adjusted by connecting it to a computer. Hearing aids are “programmed’ when they are adjusted for your child’s hearing loss.

How can I make sure my child has consistent hearing aid use?

Start each day with a listening check. Put the hearing aids in your child’s ears upon waking. Keep the hearing aids in your child’s ears throughout the day. Your goal is fulltime hearing aid use. It may be helpful to keep a calendar of daily hearing aid use to share with your audiologist.

Is there a support group for parents of children who have hearing loss?

Getting to know other parents of children who have hearing loss in your community can be very important. They know what you are going through and can provide information that will help you. Some communities have organizations that you can join to make these connections. If you are working with the state parent/infant program or with the state early intervention services, they may be able to help. Sometimes, professionals working with your child can help you make these connections. There are also many support groups and information resources available on the Internet. Many organizations have Internet discussion boards, chat rooms, email, and list serves designed for parents, siblings, and others.

Cochlear Implants

What is a cochlear implant?

A cochlear implant is a device that helps some deaf or hard of hearing people hear. It has an internal part, and an external part. The internal part placed under the skin behind the ear and inside the inner ear by the doctor. The external part includes a microphone and a speech processor and is worn outside the ear.

What is the difference between a hearing aid and a cochlear implant?

A hearing aid is a device that amplifies sounds and is worn in the ear. A cochlear implant is a device that amplifies an electrical signal and is implanted in the cochlea (inner ear) by a surgical procedure.

Should my baby get a cochlear implant?

Getting a cochlear implant is a big step. Learn everything you can about cochlear implants and talk with other people about implants:

  • Talk to the cochlear implant team about how it will help your child. If there is more than one implant center near you, talk to both of them.
  • Talk to other parents of children who have gotten cochlear implants about their experiences.
  • Talk to other deaf people about cochlear implants. Think about what your goals are for your child. Ask yourself how you think a cochlear implant will help your child reach those goals.

Will a cochlear implant help my baby hear better?

A cochlear implant is not a miracle cure for a hearing loss. The implant alone will not help your baby learn how to talk. The cochlear implant simply provides your baby with an opportunity to hear sound. The real work begins after your baby is implanted. You will spend many hours practicing listening and language skill before your baby will learn how to talk. The quality and quantity of language and listening practice will determine when and how fast your baby will learn how to talk.

What are the risks of getting a cochlear implant?

Like any surgery, there are risks that you should know about. Keep in mind that most of these operations do not have problems. Your doctor should explain all of the risks to you.

Are different approaches used in cochlear implant centers?

The team approach is used in many implant centers. The people on the team will evaluate your child and family to see if people on the team will evaluate your child and family to see if a cochlear implant is a good choice. Here's a list of people who may be on the team:

  • An audiologist will test your child's hearing with and without hearing aids
  • A speech and language pathologist will test your child's language skills
  • An otolaryngologist will check to see if your child has an infection or other problem that would interfere with the implant. The doctor may order an MRI or CT scan to look at the structure of the inner ear.
  • A teacher of the deaf or educational consultant will tell you about educational programs for your child.
  • A social worker will talk to you about whether your family is able to do the work that is needed. The social worker may also help you figure out who will pay for the implant.
  • A psychologist will talk to you and your child about your goals, concerns and fears about cochlear implantation.

Now that my child wears a cochlear implant, why would he (she) need to wear a hearing aid in the non-implanted ear?

A child who has a cochlear implant in one ear and severe hearing loss with no amplification in the other ear can only listen with one ear. Try plugging one ear when talking to a friend in a noisy environment and you’ll soon notice that it becomes difficult to understand what your friend is saying. Using two ears to listen makes it easier to listen in noisy situations, and makes it easier for you to locate where sounds come from. Your child cannot enjoy these advantages that you have when he or she listens with amplification only in one ear.

Furthermore, if your child does not make use of the residual hearing in the non-implanted ear, that ear may gradually lose its ability to analyse sounds. Without amplification, the ear is not stimulated by sounds and it won’t be able to work so well if and when your child needs to call on it in the future.

Where can I learn more about cochlear implants?

Since 2009 Phonak is partnering with a leading cochlear implant company, Advanced Bionics LLC. Both companies have always had a long standing commitment towards children with impaired hearing, their families and the professionals that support them.

Read up on the experience of families that have chosen Advanced Bionics as their partner www.advancedbionics.com/bea

Read the latest on Advanced Bionics products and their leading performance on www.advancedbionics.com

FM systems

Are hearing instruments enough or do they also need FM systems?

Some users of digital hearing aids find that the sound quality has improved and the background noise reduced so that they no longer feel they need the assistance of an personal FM system. However, an FM system still has huge advantages in a classroom over digital hearing aids alone. Using the FM system reduces the effects of reverberation (echo) and distance between the teacher and child that are still difficult for a hearing aid alone to cope with. Have a chat with your teacher of the deaf about how your son manages with and without the FM system.

At what age should my child start using FM?

FM can be crucial to your child's development from a very early age if they are facing noise, reverberation and hearing from a distance. Although Experts recommend introducing the use of FM when the child starts being mobile it basically depends on when the family are ready which can be as early as six months.

My child wears two hearing aids, so should he wear two FM receivers?

The key advantage is achieved by providing your child with an FM system. Scientific evidence shows that transmission to both ears brings further significant benefits, and scientific data shows that speech understanding improved 40% when two FM receivers were used instead of one (Valente, Enrietto, Crandell, Lewis (2002).

Is it possible to use FM systems with the cochlear implant?

Yes, that is possible. Individuals with cochlear implants experience the same difficulty as hearing instrument users in challenging listening environments. The Phonak receivers are available in different configurations depending on the speech processor.

More about our FM solutions for CI recipients?
FM solutions for cochlear implants

What is the difference between an FM System and an Infra-red system?

Infrared systems use infrared light to transmit the audio signal. When this light is blocked, the signal cannot be heard. Thus, infrared systems are susceptible to people and objects getting in the way. And, infrared systems do not work in sunlight.
FM systems can transmit through objects and operate as effectively in sunlight as they do indoors. FM systems require no installation.

Acknowledgements

Phonak acknowledges the permission and assistance of the following organizations for their expertise in this portion of our website: