A guide to hearing care for children
Undergoing a hearing test for the first time can be unnerving for many people, however, for young children who may not understand what a hearing test is, it can be especially stressful and scary. Although, this doesn’t need to be the case.
Nathan Gluck Hearing Care are hearing specialists in North London, offering professional hearing tests to adults and children alike. We have put together some useful tips to help prepare children before and during their hearing consultation as well as a brief guide of what happens during the test.
Signs that your child may need a hearing test
Firstly, it is important to recognise the signs your child may need a hearing test. By being aware of these symptoms, you will be able to identify when the time may come that your child needs a hearing test. Remember that even though nothing may come up in the consultation it is still important to ensure their ears are in good condition, especially if they are suffering from some of these symptoms.
Symptoms that your child may need a hearing test include:
- Frustrated in conversations
- Touching their ears a lot
- Don’t respond when their name is called
- Not getting involved in classroom activities
- Ears are red
- Poor concentration
- Mispronouncing words
Preparing a child for a hearing test
If you have booked a hearing test for your child it is important to then brief them on what a hearing test is in addition to what this will include. Here are some key steps to follow:
- Talk to them, explain why they’re having a hearing test
- It is important to explain what a hearing test is to your child as they may become upset and confused if they enter the hearing clinic without understanding where they are. Stress then often occurs with confusion and they may refuse to go through with the consultation. By calmly explaining what a hearing test is once entering the clinic they will then understand their surroundings and the reason they are there.
- Let them know what to expect
- Secondly, it is important to go through the different steps included in a hearing test. Therefore, when the hearing clinician proceeds to take a look at your child’s ears, they will once again understand what is happening and this will help to calm their nerves.
During the first appointment, it will most likely take around an hour. We will start by assessing the child’s ear by taking a look at the outer and inner ear.
We will then ask a series of questions. Try to let your child answer as best as they can; however, if they struggle with some answers you can help by telling us what you have observed at home.
We will then give your child a pair of headphones to wear and begin testing their hearing of sounds at various pitches. We will ask them to press a button when they hear a sound.
Finally, we will ask your child to wear a special headband that will test how well sounds are vibrated throughout the skull. Don’t worry, this is painless and your child will not feel anything.
- Help them get used to things in their ears, such as earphones prior to their appointment
- As we conduct some of the hearing tests by asking your child to listen to sounds with headphones on, we recommend that you allow them to try on a pair before the consultation so that they can adjust to how it feels. This is especially useful if they are not used to wearing headphones.
Attending a hearing test with a child
On the day of the consultation when attending with your child, it is important to still reassure them of what is going to happen even if it has previously been explained to them. It is essential to ensure that they are calm and comfortable throughout the consultation.
When the consultation begins, they meet the audiologist. Although we will explain our role and try to help your child feel comfortable, it can also help for you to explain who we are to them as yours is a voice they will trust. It can help to explain that we have worked with other children previously as this will begin to build their confidence in us. We will also provide reassurance and explain the steps once again in a child-friendly way so that they confirm what is expected to happen. During the test, it is your role to provide support for your child if they become uncertain at any point of the test.
Once the hearing test has been completed we will explain the results to both you and your child and confirm whatever steps may need to be taken after the results; whether this is ear treatment or in other circumstances a hearing aid.
Helping your child feel comfortable with hearing aids
In some circumstances, we will recommend hearing aids for your child depending on the test results. Hearing aids can be a big change for a child as they can make a visual difference as well as alter how they hear their surroundings.
When first having a hearing aid they may feel ‘different’ compared to the other children around them. It is important to make them feel comfortable in their hearing aids, and you can do this by reassuring them that it is nothing to worry about. If you would like to read some tips on how you can get your child used to hearing aids in their everyday life you can click here.
If your child is feeling anxious about wearing hearing aids it is important to reassure them. We offer three different hearing aids – ITE (inside-the-ear), RIC (receiver-in-canal) and BTE (behind-the-ear) – although we will offer advice on which hearing aid will be best suited for your child’s needs, the choice is ultimately yours. Therefore, if your child begins to feel anxious about the visual appearance of the hearing aid, an ITE could be the best option for them as it is less visible.
Looking after your child’s ears
Although there are methods of treatment to help your child’s ears, it can be important to prevent any hearing issues from happening. There are various ways of doing this such as:
Avoiding exposure to loud noises includes things such as concerts, school dances, boom boxes, leaf blowers etc. In most cases, children will not be exposed to these noises very often if at all however, it is still worth giving examples of what may damage their hearing.
One way your child may damage their hearing with noise is through the use of headphones/earphones at high levels of sound. We recommend that headphone usage is minimised in addition to ensuring that volume levels are at a sustainable level. Repeated usage of headphones at a high volume can impact your child’s hearing development and become an issue in later life.
Although the overall hearing and health of your child’s ears are important it is also key to ensure that they keep their ears clean too. Ear infections can be common in children so by teaching them not to put their fingers or foreign objects in their ears these issues can be avoided. It is also important to ensure that they clean their ears properly, they can do this using a small washcloth and then using a hairdryer on the lowest setting as well as the coolest to get rid of any moisture. You can read more on cleaning your child’s ears here.
If you have any other questions before the consultation or have any questions about hearing aids or tests you can contact us here.