Caring for your child’s hearing aids at homePublished Date: 14 May 2020
We all know how important it is for children to wear their hearing aids as much as possible. Keeping hearing aids on your child’s ears and in good working order gives them the best access to communication, language, and learning.
With audiology clinics mostly closed for face-to-face appointments at the moment, our audiologist has put together three top tips on looking after your child’s hearing aids, how to keep them working at their best, and how to fix any minor issues yourself.
1. Check your child’s hearing aids daily
For babies and young children you should check them every day yourself before they wear them. A daily check and listening test will reassure you that your child’s hearing aids are working well and help you find any faults with them, many of which can be put right easily. If your child is old enough, you can ask them how the aid is sounding and encourage them to tell you about any changes.
You may find this video on how to clean your child’s hearing aids, do a daily listening check, and common faults to look out for useful. One of the most common problems encountered is whistling, which brings us to top tip number two.
2. Listen out for whistling
Most hearing aids will whistle at some time or another. This is known as feedback. Feedback occurs when the microphone picks up the sound coming out of the hearing aid and amplifies it. This helpful video discusses all the possible reasons for whistling.
Check the following for causes of feedback:
- Damage to the elbow (the hard plastic hook that fits between the hearing aid and the softer earmould tubing). Check for holes or cracks and ask your audiologist to post you a replacement if it is damaged.
- A fault within the hearing aid. Take apart the hearing aid and the earmould. You can do this by gently pulling apart the soft tubing of the earmould from the hard plastic elbow of the hearing aid. After checking that the elbow is in good condition, press a finger over the end making a good seal. When the hearing aid is turned on you shouldn’t get any feedback. This means that the aid is working properly. If you can hear whistling, there’s a problem inside the hearing aid and it should be returned to the clinic for repair.
- Earwax. Earwax can cause feedback as more sound is reflected back out of the ear. If an earmould is a good fit but it has started to produce feedback, this could be an early sign of earwax. It’s important not to try and remove the wax yourself as putting cotton buds into the ear can push the wax deeper into the ear canal. It might be difficult to get wax removed at the clinic at the moment but ask your audiologist about what services are available or to be booked in as soon as the clinic is open for face-to-face appointments again.
The most likely reason for feedback is that the earmould isn’t a good fit. Have a good look at your child’s earmoulds, both in and out of the ear.
The earmould is a vital part of the hearing aid – channelling the amplified sound into the ear from the hearing aid. If they get blocked with wax or moisture then sound cannot get through effectively. With time the tubing in the earmould can get hard and brittle and when this happens it needs to be changed.
You can get a supply of replacement tubing from your audiologist. Watch a step-by-step guide to changing the tubing yourself.
If earmoulds split or no longer fit snugly then sound can escape causing feedback (whistling) when the ‘leaked’ sound is picked up by the hearing aid’s microphone. Because young children grow quickly, new impressions are usually taken very regularly but this may not be possible at the moment and new earmoulds for children are being made without impressions when possible.
Manufacturers are re-printing moulds (based on stored scans of impressions) where available, adding a small percentage for growth and then posting to the family. Where scans are not available, services may ask you to post your child’s earmoulds one at a time (so that they are not without amplification altogether) and a remake can then be made from this.
These are not perfect solutions, but are working for some children. Where impressions are considered necessary, services will try and see children if they possibly can. Contact your audiologist for advice if your child needs them.
If you prefer written step-by-step instructions on caring for hearing aids instead of video, the above information and more is available in our booklet Hearing Aids: Information for families
Where to get help and advice
Do not go to the audiology clinic unless you have spoken to your audiologist first and they have asked you to attend. If you find a fault with the hearing aid that isn’t easily fixed, please contact your child’s audiologist.
Audiology services are working hard to ensure that they can still help with any concerns your might have by telephone, email or text and provide repairs, new earmoulds and batteries as needed. We know that most are unable to provide routine face-to-face appointments at the moment, but audiologists are taking decisions on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether they have facilities, staff and personal protective equipment available, and what the level of COVID-19 risk is locally at the time.
For information on how to get hearing aid repairs, batteries and new moulds whilst audiology clinics are closed for face-to-face appointments read our coronavirus blog which is updated regularly.
You might also like to have a look at our top tips for troubleshooting technology which has advice for those using radio aids or other assistive technologies with their hearing aids.