FAQ on Hearing Impairment & Rehabilitation

Question: Can medicines cure the hearing loss?

Answer: This depends on the cause of the hearing loss. In general, problems in the outer and middle ear can be treated by medicine or surgery. Most of the defects of the inner ear or nerve cannot be treated. In such cases, hearing aids are the best solution.

Question: Will my child ever hear with the hearing aids?

Answer: The hearing aid will help him hear sounds, which he/she cannot hear otherwise. Children take time to learn to respond to sounds. Young children with profound hearing loss may require 6 to 8 months before they show an understanding of how they must react to sound. How much a child will hear depends on the severity of the hearing loss and the benefit he/she gets from a hearing aid. Experience has shown that if children are fitted with hearing aid before the age of 6 months, their listening skills and verbal language skills develop almost normally.

Question: How will the hearing aids help?

Answer: The hearing aids amplify sounds and feed them to the ear so as to enable the child to make use of his/her residual hearing. Hearing aids do not cure a hearing loss nor do they restore normal hearing. That is why, even after wearing a hearing aid the child may participate poorly in conversation or even respond poorly to sounds in the environment. However the child improves with intensive auditory training. The aim of the audiologist is to fit a hearing aid which provides maximum benefit with respect to hearing all sounds and especially speech. However this is not practically achieved in every case. Some children may not get the desired benefit with any hearing aid so as to depend fully on hearing for all the ordinary purposes of life. Then the hearing has to be supplemented with speech reading. If the benefit is very inadequate, decisions about cochlear implant can be made at a later point of time.
It is important to ensure that the child receives a guided auditory training as even children who benefit from the hearing aid may continue to ignore sounds if they are not taught how to ‘listen’.
Training is an ongoing process. The Child's progress depends on many factors including the child himself, the type of hearing loss, benefit from the hearing aid, usage of the hearing aid, how early the intervention began, regularity in the training program & above all, the extent of parent involvement. A child requires training until his speech, language and academic skills attain an age appropriate level. Often it is desirable to prepare children with hearing impairment to a level of language reading, writing and listening skills either equal or better than that of the hearing peers. It is possible, if a concerted effort is taken.

Question: How many days does the child have to wear the hearing aid?

Answer: The child will have to wear the hearing aid all his life. Hearing aid does not cure hearing loss, therefore a child with hearing impairment will always need to wear it much like we wear our spectacles.

Question: After fitting the hearing aid, how many children are able to speak fluently in a normal manner? 

Answer: Children who have hearing loss may not speak clearly in the initial stages but can improve speech with speech therapy. A lot depends on whether the child wear the hearing aid regularly and whether or not he/she receive regular training in his early childhood. It is important for the child to learn, to make the best use of his residual hearing, as hearing is the best channel to acquire speech. It is also important to see that bad speech habits do not develop.

Question: My child refuses to wear the hearing aid, he/she wears it for a very short time. Why?

Answer: A child needs time to get used to wearing a hearing aid. Children are often curious and want to touch & handle the hearing aid, which makes the parent nervous that the aid might be spoiled. Instead of scolding the child, make sure he/she is kept busy with toys etc when he/she is wearing the hearing aid. Play with him & bring his attention to sounds. If after wearing it for some time he/she gets irritable, take it off for sometime. Put it back later & praise him if he/she wears the aids without a fuss. 

Sometimes there may be other reasons why he/she does not wear the hearing aids:

  1. The moulds may be fitting poorly, the ear mould tubes may be too long or short or he/she may have pain in the ears. Check for these possibilities. If you see redness, swelling or ear discharge consult your doctor, preferably an ENT specialist.
  2. The hearing aid may be uncomfortably loud. Check if he/she shows irritability for loud sounds with the hearing aid. If you feel that the child is uncomfortable for any sounds, consult the audiologist.
  3. The harness may not be fitting well (body level aids), the volume control may be too high.
  4. The child may be scared of the hearing aid or may feel shy. Parent should play a supportive & encouraging role and try to slowly increase the duration of hearing aid usage. You can even try putting on only the ear moulds without the hearing aid so as to get him habituated. You should be quick & gentle when putting moulds. If you hurt the child he/she will naturally be fearful.
  5. He/She may be using the hearing aid to ‘control you’. This is possible as he/she begin to realize that you worry about the hearing aids. Do not show panic when he/she takes off the hearing aid. Be calm. You may need to work towards reducing his temper tantrums in general, while using the hearing aid.

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