Hesperian Health Guides
Appendix A: Hearing Aids
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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.
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.
- 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.
- If a child can hear some sounds, a hearing aid may alert him to sounds that warn about danger.
What hearing aids cannot do
- If a child cannot hear any sounds of a certain pitch, a hearing aid will not help him hear those kinds of sounds.
- 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.