Hesperian Health Guides

Appendix A: Hearing Aids

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Deaf > Appendix A: Hearing Aids

A hearing aid is a small piece of equipment that makes sounds louder. Many people think that a hearing aid will cure a child's hearing problem and make him hear sounds like other people do. This is not true. Hearing aids only make sounds louder. They do not fix any other problem. See more about different kinds of hearing loss.

Hearing aids can be worn in one or both ears, depending on the kind of hearing loss a child has. They can help a child who hears some sounds to hear sounds better. If a child cannot hear any sounds, a hearing aid will probably not help.

Is a hearing aid right for my child?

A girl wearing a hearing aid.
Hearing aids may help a child who hears a little to understand speech, hear sounds better, and speak better.
Hearing aids only help children with certain types of hearing loss. Hearing aids need batteries and need to be kept clean. They are expensive and break easily. A child who uses a hearing aid will need to travel regularly to a clinic for hearing tests.

A hearing aid will only work well if it fits a child's ear exactly. The earmold (the part that fits in the ear) is made from impressions of the outer ear, and no two ears are the same. In young children, the earmold must be checked at least twice a year. It must be replaced as a child's ear grows and changes shape.

What hearing aids can do

The benefits of a hearing aid depend on the kind of hearing loss a child has.

  • If a child can hear some sounds, a hearing aid will help her hear sounds that are too soft for her to hear by herself.
A loud motorcycle drives past a child wearing a hearing aid.
  • If a child can hear faint speech sounds, a hearing aid will make speech louder, and may help her hear what others say. This can also help a child learn to speak.
A dog barking near a boy wearing a hearing aid.
  • If a child can hear some sounds, a hearing aid may alert him to sounds that warn about danger.

What hearing aids cannot do

A man playing a flute behind his small boy.
This child cannot hear high-pitch sounds, no matter how loud they are. A hearing aid will not help him hear the flute.
A small girl thinking as her father speaks to her while they walk along a road.
We'd better get home, Yena.
What did Papa say?!
  • Hearing aids make all sounds louder. This means a hearing aid will not help someone in a noisy place hear people more clearly than other noises.