Pediatric Hearing Aids at Camino ENT
The Pediatric Hearing Device Program at Camino ENT works with leading hearing device manufacturers on the market to provide comprehensive fitting and programming services for children and their families.
Pediatric Hearing Device Candidacy
A complete hearing test will need to be completed by the audiologist to diagnose hearing loss in one or both ears. Once hearing loss has been diagnosed, the physician will complete a medical exam of the ears to ensure no medical condition exists that warrants intervention. The child and family are then referred back to the audiologist for a Hearing Device Consultation. This appointment is scheduled for one hour.
At the consultation, the audiologist will explain in more depth about the child’s hearing loss and how the hearing loss could potentially affect speech and language learning. The audiologist will make a recommendation for a hearing device and will help the family make the right decision. Hearing devices can be purchased by many different manufacturers. At Camino ENT, the audiologist works with leading hearing device manufacturers to offer patients a wide variety of device styles and technologies. The audiologist explains the different levels of technology (basic, mid-range and high-end), along with which style of hearing device is appropriate for the patient’s hearing loss. Hearing devices are an investment – the audiologist and family will discuss the different price points so that the family is aware of the final cost.
If the child’s hearing device requires a custom ear mold, the audiologist will check the ear for cerumen (wax) and then proceed with taking an impression of the ear(s). An impression is taken by inserting a small piece of foam into the ear canal and then filling the outer part of the ear canal with a silicone-based material. This material takes several minutes to harden, during which time the child can be active (without touching the ear). Often the audiologist will have a toy or book that the child can play with while the impression material is hardening. Once the material is hard, the impression(s) are sent to the manufacturer for the mold or device to be formed.
As a child grows, the ear will also change in size and shape. Ear molds will need to be replaced more often for children as they grow, sometimes every couple months. The audiologist will explain what changes to look for so that parents know when it might be time for a new set of ear molds to be made.
Hearing Device Fitting and Purchase
Once the family has chosen a device, a hearing device fitting appointment will be scheduled. This appointment is approximately two weeks following the consultation. At the fitting appointment, the audiologist will enter the child’s hearing loss information into the computer and make initial programming changes to the hearing device(s).
In some cases, behavioral threshold testing may not provide accurate or reliable results for the audiologist to use in programming the hearing device. The audiologist may need to rely on other types of testing to estimate the child’s hearing loss. This type of testing is called electroacoustical and includes auditory brainstem response (ABR) and auditory steady-state response (ASSR) testing. Hearing thresholds can be estimated from these tests, if behavioral thresholds cannot be obtained. Frequent testing of infants and young children with hearing loss is needed, especially over the first few years until accurate, reliable information can be obtained.
Even with behavioral or electroacoustical thresholds, the audiologist still needs to account for the smaller size of a young child’s ear canal when fitting a hearing device. A real-ear measurement will be taken to account for the smaller ear canal to ensure the programming is accurate based on each child’s canal. This measurement is taken on special equipment in the office and can be done quickly to obtain frequency and intensity information about how amplification (called gain) is being transmitted through the child’s ear.
The audiologist will show the family the main parts of the hearing device. The parents/guardians will also practice inserting and removing the device. The audiologist will give the family tools to clean the device and show the family how to do a “listening check” with the child each morning. Families are also encouraged to call or email the audiologist when they feel their child’s hearing devices may not be working.
At the end of the fitting appointment, the audiologist will review the purchase agreement (receipt) with the family. The purchase agreement shows the make and model of hearing devices purchased, the serial numbers, warranties for repair and replacement and dates of the trial period.
In the state of California, all hearing device consumers have a 45-day trial period in which to try the hearing device(s). It is common for the audiologist to make several programming adjustments to the hearing device(s) as the child adjusts to the sound. If the family decides at the end of the trial period to return the hearing devices, the cost of the device(s) will be returned to the patient in full. Any insurance benefit or contribution applied to the device(s) will be taken into account when calculating the reimbursement.
Hearing Device Follow-Up
Once the child is fit with the hearing device(s), the audiologist will explain when the follow-up appointments should be scheduled. Programming changes to volume and sound quality will be administered as the child adjusts to wearing the device over time. A hearing test will also be completed in the sound booth, to determine whether the hearing devices are giving the child adequate access to soft speech sounds. Once the programming is optimized for the child, it is recommended that the family return every six months for a device check and testing. Hearing device services such as cleaning, troubleshooting and programming, are included at no cost during the warranty of the device(s).