Types of Listening Devices for Children with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss in children is more common than you might think. About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children are born with hearing loss, while some experience the development of hearing loss as they age. As a result, about 15% of American adults — over 37.5 million people — experience hearing loss today.
If you have a child with hearing loss, it is important to recognize that early treatment and intervention are crucial first steps. Part of that process often involves obtaining a hearing aid or similar device for your child. Below, we'll discuss the multiple options available for your child.
Hearing aids use battery-powered microphones and receivers to process and clarify sounds. Pediatric hearing aids are uniquely durable, with water-proof and tamper-proof qualities to endure a child's curious and active behavior. Indicative LED lights and compatibility with assistive devices help parents and other caretakers easily check to see if the aids are working properly.
Types of aids differ in how they're placed on or inside the ear.
BTE hearing aids are the most commonly used for both babies and young children with mild, moderate, or high-frequency hearing loss. These devices are placed on the ear with custom-made earmolds that prevent sound from escaping. A tube then transmits sounds into the ear. Since young children often grow quickly, you may need to replace the earmolds regularly.
Hearing aids with receivers in the ears look similar to BTEs. However, their receiver placement allows them to be smaller and less noticeable while preventing feedback. Since young children's ears grow constantly, these hearing aids are typically better suited for teens and adults.
Contralateral Routing of Sound (CROS)
If your child experiences reduced hearing in just one ear, a CROS aid system can help by using a microphone in the affected ear to transfer sounds to a receiver in the typical hearing ear. A more extensive bilateral contralateral routing of sound (BiCROS) system can do the same for children with poor hearing in one ear and mild hearing loss in the other.
Additional Hearing Devices
Other hearing devices differ from hearing aids in that they're for different types of hearing loss. Programming tells them how to translate different sound frequencies to suit the type of hearing loss your child experiences. Below are a few your child may be able to use.
Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA)
We've previously discussed the fact that bone-anchored hearing devices are suitable for kids who experience conductive hearing loss (caused by damage to the external or middle ear), mixed hearing loss (a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss), or enjoy good hearing in just one ear. BAHA devices are surgically implanted on the skull, where they send vibrations through the bone to a processor behind the ear.
Cochlear implants (CI)
If your child is not a candidate for any of the devices listed above, it may be recommended that they use a CI. As we recently explained more in-depth, this is a tiny, complex and surgically-implanted device. A CI uses a speech processor to arrange the sounds detected by a microphone, a transmitter to translate these sounds to electrical impulses, and an electrode array to directly stimulate the auditory nerve with these impulses. It is remarkable technology that attempts to simulate hearing.
Finding the Right Fit for Your Child
Modern research has helped hearing loss treatments expand significantly. By researching your options and keeping up appointments with your local audiologist, you are sure to find exactly what your child needs. CCHAT is always willing to discuss your options and provide information to help you make the best decision for your child. Use our contact page to get in touch with one of our friendly experts.
Exclusively written for the CCHAT Center by Reese Jones