As we’ve discussed in a previous post, hearing loss can occur in children too. Since we’re now aware of signs and symptoms, we wanted to provide an overview on treatment options too. The primary treatment for pediatric hearing loss are hearing aids, though implants and assistive listening devices also work. Every child has different needs, which means no single treatment option is the answer for every child. Let’s explore.
Hearing aids are the primary treatment for pediatric hearing loss, and the earlier they are used the better! Simply put, hearing aids make sounds louder, which means understanding sound is easier for babies, children, and adults alike. Pediatricians typically use BTE-style (behind-the-ear) devices coupled to ear molds, or RIC-style (receiver in canal) devices with domes if they are old enough. BTE-style hearing aids work best because they are better suited to growing ears. The ear molds, however, need to be remade regularly as the child’s ears grow.
It is important to note that regular diagnostic testing is essential. Hearing aids need to be regularly programmed to ensure they are functioning as designed. Timeline recommendations for testing vary depending on the nature of the hearing loss. Variables like whether the hearing loss is stable or progressive, as well as the reliability of the child in the testing booth all have an impact.
Cochlear implants or bone-anchored hearing aids are a treatment option as well. A cochlear implant is appropriate for a child with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears. Though the primary treatment for pediatric hearing loss are hearing aids, they may not be enough. Implants work differently. They do not make sounds louder, they send sound signals directly to the hearing nerve. The implant electrically stimulates the cochlear nerve to send sound information to the brain.
Bone-anchored devices may work for children who have conductive hearing loss, unilateral deafness, or who have structural abnormalities that do not allow the use of a traditional hearing aid.
Assistive Listening Devices
There are other devices that can help with pediatric hearing loss, especially FM systems in school. An FM system helps people with hearing loss hear when there is background noise present. FM systems send sound from a microphone to a person wearing the receiver (or hearing aid). This system can be used with hearing aids by attaching an addition to the hearing aid allowing it to work with the FM system.
Our very own audiologists work with educational audiologists in the area to ensure the system in place at schools will be compatible with the hearing aids recommended. By working with parents, the school audiologist, and speech pathologist, they can create a space where children with any degree of hearing loss can be helped.
The good news is that there are other devices available that can help children experiencing hearing loss, such as:
- Text messaging
- Telephone amplifiers
- Flashing and vibrating alarms
- Audio loop systems
- Infrared listening devices
- Portable sound amplifiers
- TTY (Text Telephone or teletypewriter)
What can you do if you think your child is experiencing hearing loss? Give us a call and make an appointment! We’ll perform diagnostic testing, discuss treatment options, and answer all your questions. Remember, the sooner hearing loss is detected, the better. So even if you suspect there might be hearing loss, test it to find out!