Hearing aids are devices which are used to amplify sound. They are worn by children who suffer from hearing problems, and will be comprised of several components, including a microphone, loud speaker and circuitry. The microphone is responsible for detecting sound, while the amplifier will increase it and the loud speaker will transmit it within the ear. Most models use batteries to power these components.
Although all hearing aids use the same basic components, they come in different designs, features, and technology used for amplification. While some are analog based, others are digital. Many models will also feature ear molds which channel sound into the ears while increasing the quality. When choosing a hearing aid for their child, parents should select a model based on the severity of their child’s hearing loss, as well as their lifestyle and needs.
Hearing aid styles
Hearing aids primarily come in four different styles, and these include:
- In the ear hearing aids
- Behind the ear hearing aids
- Mini hearing aids
- In the canal hearing aids
In the ear hearing aids come in the form of a shell that fits into the outer ear. Also known as ITE aids, they are larger than the other variations. Behind the ear hearing aids will come in small plastic containers that are placed behind the ear. This is one of the best styles for children because it is compatible with various ear molds, which will have to be replaced as the child gets older. They are also tough, simple to use and easy to clean.
Mini hearing aids are one of the newest styles, and they also fit behind the ear. However, they are the smallest model available and are very comfortable as they eliminate occlusion while providing better feedback. In the canal hearing aids are placed entirely into the ear canal. They are the smallest hearing aids available, and as such observers may not know the child is wearing them. However their miniature size may make them prone to being lost or mishandled by children.
Analog vs. digital hearing aids
Analog hearing aids amplify sound waves which are continuous, and will do so for all types of sound. Some analog models can be programmed, and they contain a microchip which allows them to be used in various listening environments, such as libraries (which are often quiet) or restaurants which may be loud. When the child changes environments, they can adjust the settings by pressing a button. Analog hearing aids are based on older technology and are becoming increasingly rare.
Digital hearing aids are based on newer technology, and in addition to having all the features which are seen in analog models, they can also transform sound waves into digitized signals and can accurately duplicate sound. They contain computer chips which will assess any sounds which are detected in the environment, and will perform sound processing which is highly complex. Digital hearing aids will also adapt to the hearing needs of the child. These digital versions have become the standard models that are available today, and parents with any questions about them should contact us at ENT for Children.