Hearing and Speech Frequently Asked Questions
Hearing and Speech Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a list of frequently asked questions about the Hearing and Speech Clinic at Children's Mercy.

Does a Child Need a Referral at the Hearing and Speech Clinic?

Many insurance plans need a physician's referral. A family can get a referral to the Hearing and Speech Clinic from a pediatrician, school, a health care agency or other educational and social organizations.

Keep in mind that state programs and Medicaid plans must approve a child's outpatient visits. 

The Hearing and Speech Clinic does not require a referral to see a child, unless the child's insurance company requires the child to have one. It is important for a family to check their insurance coverage. The staff recommends that families ask their physician for a written referral.

Is There Financial Help Available Through the Hospital?

Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics has financial counseling and other payment arrangements. The Hearing and Speech Clinic has hearing aid and therapy grants.

For more information, call financial counseling at (816) 234-3559. 

How Can Parents Help Their Child Adjust to Wearing Hearing Aids?

Sometimes the transition to wearing hearing aids is hard for children.

Try to make wearing hearing aids a good thing by making it fun. Put the hearing aids in and begin a fun activity with the child right away. If the child likes music, turn on a favorite CD and dance together. If the child likes to read, put in the aids and read a favorite book. If the child likes to play a certain game, then do that. Do whatever the child enjoys. If the child takes the hearing aids out, do not punish him/her. Simply take the hearing aids, put them away, and go do the dishes or make dinner or some other daily activity. After that task is done, put the hearing aids back on the child and begin another fun activity. Soon, the child will realize that when he/she wears the hearing aids, the child gets undivided attention and has fun. When the child takes the hearing aids out, the fun stops and his/her parents pay attention to other things. 

If the child will only wear the hearing aids for very brief periods of time, try this. Put the hearing aids in. Do a fun activity with the child and at the end of the activity the adult should take the hearing aids out and put them away. Give plenty of praise to the child for keeping the aids in long enough to finish the activity. Let the child have a break, then put the aids back in. Complete another activity and then again the adult should take the hearing aids out and put them away. Repeat this routine at least three times a day. Each day the activities should last longer. This way, the child knows that the aids will be removed at the end of the activity, so the child is less likely to take them out himself/herself.

Keep in mind that the goal is for the child to wear the hearing aids all his/her waking hours every day. These strategies are to help the child with learning to wear hearing aids. By the end of one month, the child should be wearing the hearing aids whenever he/she is awake. Once the child has accepted the hearing aids for the activities listed above, begin treating the hearing aids as part of the child's clothes. When the child gets dressed in the morning, put in the aids. When the child gets undressed, take out the aids. The sooner the child reaches this point, the better the child's speech, language and learning outcomes will be.

Parents should contact their audiologist if they have problems getting their child to wear the aids. The audiologists at the Hearing and Speech Clinic will happily work with the child and parents. 

How Long Should a Child Wear Hearing Aids Each Day?

The audiologists at Children's Mercy like to tell children that their new hearing aids are now part of their clothes. So, when a child gets dressed in the morning, they should put on a shirt, pants and hearing aids. When the child gets undressed at night, they should take off the shirt, take off the pants and take off the hearing aids. Children should not wear their hearing aids when sleeping, bathing/showering, swimming or around loud noise.

The more time children spend wearing their hearing aids, the better their speech, language, learning and social outcomes will be. 

When the hearing aids are not in the ears, they should go into the dehumidifier where they will be kept safe and dry. Hearing aids should never be put in a pocket, on the coffee table or in a back pack. They could go through the washing machine, be eaten by the dog or be crushed by books! 

How Should Hearing Aids be Cared For?

For young children, an adult should listen to the hearing aids every day before putting them in the child's ears to make sure the aids are working right. 

If there is any problem with the aids such as no sound, quieter than usual, static or if the hearing aids work on and off, change the  battery

If a new battery does not fix the problem, clean out the  earmold with a wax loop and/or blower to make sure that wax is not blocking the tubing. 

If neither of these fix the problem, bring the hearing aids to the Hearing and Speech Clinic for repair. When bringing in the hearing aids, there is a repair form to fill out. It can be downloaded by clicking hearing aid repair form. It is also found on the  forms page.

How Should Hearing Aids be Cleaned?

Hearing aids can be cleaned with a dry cloth. The  earmolds can be cleaned with a wax loop. If the wax loop does not get rid of all of the wax, take the hearing aid off of the earhook and blow air from the end of the tube down into the earmold. If a child has clear earmolds, they will turn yellow over time. No amount of cleaning will change that.

Will sweat ruin a hearing aid? 

No. Like any electronics, moisture is not good for the hearing aid, but it will not ruin it either. Be sure to keep the hearing aids in the dehumidifier when they are not in use. Talk to an audiologist about products that can help protect hearing aids from sweat, and about tubing that fights water build up for  earmolds.

How Can a Squealing Sound be Fixed on a Hearing Aid?

"Squealing" or a high pitched noise is also called feedback. This happens when sound that is leaving the hearing aid comes back into the aid's  microphone.

Feedback usually happens for these reasons (from most to least likely):

  • The earmold is not all the way in the child's ear.
  • The earmold is too small.
  • There is something is too close to the hearing aid.
  • There is a lot of wax in the ear canal.
  • There is a crack in the  tubing or the earhook.

If the problem is wax in the child's ear canal, call the child's pediatrician or Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor to have them remove the wax. Do not use cotton swabs to get rid of the wax. Children's ear canals are small and doing this will only push wax deeper into the canal.

The Hearing and Speech Clinic can help with all other problems. If the hearing aid is squealing, but the earmold is all the way in his/her ear and nothing is too close to the hearing aid, then call the Hearing and Speech Clinic to set up a time to have the hearing aid checked. It is important that the child, the hearing aid and the earmold all come to the appointment; do not drop off the hearing aid to be fixed. Please visit the contact information page to schedule an appointment.

What Should be Done if a Child Loses a Hearing Aid?

Loss and damage can only be claimed one time on each hearing aid, within the warranty period. If the child loses a hearing aid and has not already claimed loss and damage on the aid, parents should call the Hearing and Speech Clinic and click here for the loss and damage form. The loss and damage form needs a signature from the parent in front of a notary. There is a notary available at each of the Hearing and Speech Clinic locations. Also, most banks have a notary. 

Once the form is turned into the Hearing and Speech Clinic, an audiologist will send the paperwork to the hearing aid company. A new hearing aid will be ordered for the patient. A fee may be charged for the loss and damage claim if the child's insurance does not cover the hearing aid. While the child is waiting for the new hearing aid to come in, the Hearing and Speech Clinic will give the child a loaner aid if one is available. Please call the Hearing and Speech Clinic for more information about a loaner hearing aid.

Is it Normal for Children's Ears to Make More Wax When They Wear Hearing Aids?

Yes, it is normal for children's ears to make more wax when they wear hearing aids. When a hearing aid is put into an ear, wax glands make more wax because the ear thinks the hearing aid is a foreign body. The ear produces wax to help break down foreign bodies and clean out the ear canal. The same thing happens in the mouth when retainers are put on teeth; the mouth thinks the retainer is a foreign body and makes more saliva to break down the foreign body.

Should Parents Clean Their Child's Ears?

Never use a cotton swab to clean a child's ears. Children's ear canals are very small. It is easy to harm the eardrum and middle ear by going too far into the ear. If a child has wax in his/her canals, a cotton swab will only push it farther down the canal, which will cause more problems. Also, damage can be done if the child coughs, sneezes or moves suddenly during ear cleaning. If it seems like a child needs to have his/her ears cleaned, talk to the child's pediatrician or Ear, Nose and Throat doctor (ENT).

What is "Swimmer's Ear"?

Swimmer's ear (external otitis) is an infection of the ear canal usually caused by bacteria on the thin lining of the canal. When an ear canal is around moisture, the ears can get infected. Swimmer's ear is usually easy to treat, but taking care of it early is the best way to avoid more serious problems. Signs of swimmer's ear are itchy and painful ears, ears feeling plugged, pain when the ear is moved up and down, pain when the ear is pushed in, and drainage from the ear. If a parent thinks that a child has swimmer's ear, contact the child's pediatrician or the Children's Mercy Hospital Information Line at (816) 234-3188.

For more information please visit the  swimmer's ear care card.

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