Keeping ears warm while maintaining access to sound

With colder temperatures moving in and the possibility of inclement weather increasing, parents may be wondering how to protect their children’s faces and heads from the cold while still providing them with optimal access to sound. Sound travels through the air and past any barriers before reaching the ear. Therefore, the clothing parents use to keep their children warm could change the sound quality or sound volume they receive through their devices. Here are some quick tips to circumvent this issue for children who use hearing aids and/or cochlear implants:

Tips for choosing head coverings:

  • Looser fitting head coverings won’t generally activate hearing aid feedback as quickly as tighter fitting head coverings.
    • Coat hoods can be used as they tend to be looser than other types of hats.
    • If parents prefer using a standard hat, consider buying one size larger.
  • Earmuffs, if sized well, may protect ears without obstructing the device microphones.
  • Crocheted or knit beanies allow sound in with more transparency than some of the heavier fleece varieties.
  • Consider a “Newsboy” hat which tends to be looser near the ear and may cover more of the top of the head than the ears themselves.
  • Some headbands may cover ears without impeding the device microphones.
  • If the weather requires a warm, heavy hat, children can utilize remote mic technology and stay toasty-warm while the remote microphones deliver sounds directly to the device instead of going through the hat.
  • Administer the Ling sound check while the child is wearing different hats to check for best access to sound.

Other considerations:

  • Be aware that devices can potentially come loose when a hat or a hood is taken off. Check for devices after removing the hat or hood and re-secure them if needed. A tether can also be used to connect the devices to the child’s coat so that if the devices do fall off, they will stay attached to the clothing.
  • Humidity/condensation can be a factor in the winter, especially while using head coverings.
    • Inspect the earmold tubing for water droplets and/or the microphone areas for condensation.
    • Use tools to dry the devices such as a dehumidifier or earmold tubing blower.
    • Condensation can become trapped in the battery compartments and shorten the battery life or cause rust to appear. Batteries may need to be swapped sooner than expected.
    • Try a moisture guard sleeve (made for different hearing devices) that reduces exposure to moisture and is acoustically transparent.
    • Use static remover spray on the head covering if static cling, flyaway hair or evidence of static charge is building up to reduce damage to the hearing devices.

Options for winter wear that keep children warm while also maintaining access to sound will vary, depending on children’s ages and devices. Parents should contact their child’s audiologist to address their child’s specific needs.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

kathy holtmanKathy Holtman currently serves as a pediatric audiologist at CID-Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri

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