While hearing loss in children is uncommon, about 4 in every 1,000 kids in Canada will be born with some hearing impairment or have early progressive childhood hearing loss. Some of these cases involve a genetic disorder that also causes hearing loss, while other causes include infections, head trauma, or degenerative nerve syndromes.
Regardless of what caused your child's hearing loss, there are many options available to enhance their ability to hear.
Why Hearing Aids are Important for Kids
Because children develop much of their language abilities through hearing spoken language, anything that reduces their hearing can also affect speech. The sooner they can be fitted with a hearing aid, the less of an impact this hearing issue will have on their ability to communicate.
You may be able to identify hearing loss early in your child as you notice little or no response to hearing their name, being spoken to, or loud noises. Talk to your pediatrician about having regular hearing exams done and bring up any signs that there may be a lack of hearing or speech immediately.
Types of Hearing Aids
Newer technologies have helped make better, smaller, and more effective hearing aids. It's very unlikely that any type of hearing aid will keep your child from their regular activities. Some types on the market are better suited to kids, though, including these:
- Behind the ear. These are easier to fit to a growing child, as they sit behind the ear and amplify sound through a small ear mould. As your child's ear gets larger, the mould can be changed without having to get an entirely new hearing aid. These are also less intrusive to the inside of the ear, so they are better suited to kids who have chronic ear infections.
- In the ear. Some types of hearing aids fit into the ear canal and amplify sound directly. They are best for older children who won't need a completely new device to fit their growing ears. Also, they may not be powerful enough to help children with more moderate to severe hearing loss.
- FM systems. These help children with mild hearing loss understand more in certain situations and can be used with behind-the-ear or in-ear aids. A receiver is worn on the ear, and a transmitter is placed near a speaker, a television or other source of sound. It can be very useful in a classroom setting to help kids better understand their teachers.
Other types of hearing aids can take the form of implants. Talk to a doctor for more information on whether your child is a candidate for a more permanent type of hearing help. You might also consider contacting a representative from a company like Bentley Hearing Services for further information.