Q. How do digital hearing aids work?
A. Sound reaching the microphone is changed into a digital form using a computer microchip inside the hearing aid. The hearing aid then makes the signal stronger. It also changes the signal back into sounds that the listener can identify as speech.
Digital aids can give people a “cleaner” sound. This means that there's no background hum from the hearing aid's amplifier. Digital aids can be programmed to cut down on background noise in other ways.
Q. What are programmable hearing aids?
A. Programmable hearing aids are the most flexible kind of hearing aid. Programmable means the hearing aids can have different settings, or programs. They can be set for a noisy classroom or for a quiet conversation. They can also be set just for your child's type of hearing loss. There are both behind-the-ear and in-the-ear programmable aids.
Programmable hearing aids have a place for connecting to the audiologist's computer. This is called the programming port. The audiologist can adjust the intensity (gain) for soft and moderate sounds in a few minutes. Programmable aids may have linear or digital amplification.
Q. Does my child need an FM system?
A. FM systems help many children. An FM system lets you move the microphone closer to the person who's speaking. On hearing aids, the microphone is near the child's ear.
In the classroom, the teacher might wear the microphone. From the microphone, her voice goes to a receiver. The receiver fits on your child's hearing aid. This helps your child hear the teacher's voice better. An FM system also cuts down on background noise.
A. That sound is called feedback. It means that the amplified sound from the hearing aid goes back into the microphone of the hearing aid and gets amplified again. Here are some things that may cause feedback:
Your child's earmold may be too loose. This can let sound leak from the ear canal.
The hearing aid's tubing may have a hole in it. This can also let sound leak from the ear canal.
Your child has too much earwax.
There's a hole in the earmold.
Your child has an ear infection or fluid in his middle ear. This makes the eardrum stiff. Sound doesn't go through it as easily as it should.
Some people with hearing loss do not hear the feedback.
Try these things to stop feedback:
Turn the hearing aid volume down.
Clean the tip of the earmold carefully. Use a wire or a brush.
Make sure the earmold fits snugly. Check to see no parts are sticking out.
See your audiologist for more help. Earmolds usually need be replaced two or three times a year as your child grows.