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Looking after hearing aids

It is important that your child hears as well as possible through their hearing aids at all times. Wearing hearing aids that are not working properly can be worse than not wearing hearing aids at all.

When your child is initially fitted with their hearing aids your audiologist will provide you with a maintenance kit. Amongst other thins, the kit will include a battery tester, an air puffer, ear lubricant and an ear bud, stethoclip or special ear mould for doing listening checks.
Boy with hearing aids
As children grow older and more experienced with their hearing aids they should learn to detect problems themselves. Until they are able to do this, however, your child will rely on you to check the hearing aids for them.

As your child gets older, it is good if you give them more and more responsibility with regard to checking and maintaining their own hearing aids. Your audiologist will be able to help you teach your child to perform some simple maintenance tasks.

Your child’s hearing aids should be checked every day. The morning is better to ensure they are in working order for the day ahead.

You and your child should follow these simple steps to check how well the hearing aids are functioning:

Visual checks

Ear Mould:

  • Is the hole in the ear mould blocked with wax? This will stop the sound coming out. Pick out any wax with the wax tool (available from Australian Hearing).
  • Is the ear mould clean? Wipe it over with a tissue or damp cloth to remove any grime. If a behind the ear mould is very dirty, remove the ear mould from the hearing aid and wash it in warm, soapy water. Take care to remove all water from the ear mould before putting it back on the aid. Puffing through the mould with an air puffer will help remove moisture.

The following are for behind-the-ear (BTE) aids only:

  • Is the tubing kinked or twisted? This will affect the passage of sound through the ear. It may be necessary to get the tubing replaced.
  • Are there any holes or splits in the tubing? This will make the hearing aid whistle and will stop some sound reaching the ear. Take the ear mould to Australian Hearing for repair.
  • Is the ear mould inserted correctly? The only part of the ear mould that should be sitting out of the ear is the tubing – the rest of the mould should be flush with the rim of the ear.
     

Hearing aid:

  • Are there any cracks in the hearing aid itself? This may make the hearing aid work intermittently. Take the aid to Australian Hearing for repair.
  • Have any of the switches broken? Take the aid to Australian Hearing for repair.
  • Is there any corrosion on the battery or in the battery compartment? This will look like powder. Throw away the leaking battery and try cleaning the battery contacts carefully with a cotton bud dipped in methylated spirits, or take the aid to Australian Hearing for repair.

If the hearing aids are BTE’s, are the hearing aids on the correct ear moulds? The hearing aids may be set differently for each ear. Your Australian Hearing audiologist can mark them for you to make it easy to tell them apart. Many children have stickers on the hearing aids to help identify them.

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Listening check

How to listen to your child’s hearing aid:

To perform a listening check you will need to use and ear bud or a stethoclip or a special ear mould from Australian Hearing. The more you listen to the hearing aids the better you will become at detecting any problems with sound quality. When listening to the aid using a normal voice level some parents count or recite a nursery rhyme. Listen to your own voice and take note of the sound quality when the hearing aid is working well.

What to listen for:

  • Is the hearing aid working? Switch the hearing aid off and on a few times, and change the battery if necessary.
  • Is the volume control effective? Is the control moving as it should? Is the volume softer / louder than normal? (The volume control in many children’s hearing aids is locked. If so, the aid will not get softer and louder.)
  • Is there any static or distortion?

If a problem is identified during a listening check or you are not sure whether the hearing aid I working, bring it in or send it to your Australian Hearing centre and let them chick it for you.

Speech detection test

Another way of checking that the hearing aid is working is to carry out a speech detection test. It involves you making some speech sounds (ahh, ee, or, oo, sh, sss, and mm) whilst standing behind your child. Your child needs to acknowledge or repeat the sound. How much the child hears when the aids are functioning properly will depend on the severity of their hearing loss. Check with your audiologist how many of these sounds your child should be able to hear.

This very quick check can be done when the hearing aids are first put on each day. Your child needs to be old enough to do this task and your audiologist will demonstrate how it works.

If your child is not able to do this as well as usual, it may indicate a problem with the hearing aids, or possibly a change in their hearing.

FMs and other devices

Other equipment that your child uses to help them hear should also be checked on a regular basis. Ask your audiologist for further advice.
Batteries are dangerous if swallowed. If a battery is swallowed, seek medical advice urgently from the Poisons Information Centre in all capital cities, your doctor or local hospital.

Please remember the following:

  • Keep batteries out of reach of children
  • Children like to copy, so do not change batteries near them
  • Do not put batteries in a fire or incinerator as they may explode
  • Do not attempt to recharge button batteries.

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Information provided by Australian Hearing. Reproduced with permission.
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08-Dec-2015 5:54 AM (AEST)