Childrens Audiology Service
To book appointments and for any queries please contact us.
Telephone: 01604 545810
Mobile (Text only): 07710645838
Fax: 01604 544517
Childrens Hearing Clinic (Area K)
Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust
Opening Times: Monday to Friday 08:30 to 16:30
How to find us:
The Children's Hearing Clinic is located in area K (Outpatients building) on the lower ground floor. The nearest car parks are 3 and 4. Disabled car parking is available in area K. Car parking can be limited, so we would request you arrive early and allow additional time for parking.
Click here for the hospital map
Childrens Hearing Clinic Team
The hearing clinic team consists of dedicated paediatric audiologists, consultant community paediatricians, newborn hearing screeners and administration staff.
The childrens hearing clinic is a paediatric audiology service with its own child friendly waiting area and testing rooms.
All of our team are trained to at least Level 1 British Sign Language.
In the event of interpreter facilities being required, please contact us prior to your appointment with plenty of notice, so that we may arrange for a suitable interpreter to be available to assist you.
Head of Service & Lead Paediatric Audiologist
Senior Paediatric Audiologists
Katie Lovell, Michelle Sandilands and Risha Patel
Assistant Technical Officer
Clinic Organiser / Receptionist
Clinical Administration Team
Glynis Miles, Geraldine Baucutt, Heidi Ross
We are a specialist centre, based at Northampton General Hospital providing full hearing testing, diagnosis, hearing aid fitting and investigations.
We offer a comprehensive service from birth up to the age of 18 for children and young people with a possible or confirmed hearing impairment.
Our service provides full testing with confirmed diagnosis made. Where required referrals to ENT are made, and if hearing aids are required they are provided and fitted directly in clinic. We will work with children and their families and will also work closely with the schools, teachers of the deaf, social care and speech & language therapy to ensure the effects of any hearing impairment are minimised and the best outcome is achieved for your child.
We aim to provide a fast, friendly and efficient service using staff of the highest calibre and giving a 1st rate service to our children and families using cutting edge technologies and latest developments in this field.
Monthly Clinic Held:
We also visit schools in the Northampton area where necessary
Your child has been referred for hearing assessment, what happens next?
When your referral arrives in the childrens hearing clinic it is submitted for grading to establish the appropriate clinic for your childs appointment.
You will be contacted by telephone to arrange an agreed appointment date. If we are unable to contact you by telephone we will send you an appointment by post. If you are unable to attend this appointment please contact us as soon as possible to re arrange the appointment.
This prevents a waiting list being generated and ensures we can offer your child their first appointment with 4 weeks.
How much time should I allow before arriving for my childs appointment?
Parking is pay & display. Parking spaces are limited on the hospital site, so please allow plenty of time to park so you arrive in good time for your appointment.
What does a visit to the Childrens Hearing Clinic involve?
What will happen at the appointment?
- The audiologist will perform and interpret the hearing assessment and explain the results to parents.
- They will discuss the hearing levels and explain the type and degree of any hearing loss.
- The audiologist will refer and liase wit other agencies as necessary (with parental consent) and advise on intervention required (ENT, paediatricians, Speech & Language etc).
If hearing aids are required:
- The audiologist will make custom made ear moulds.
- Digital hearing aids will be fitted, hearing will be monitored and hearing aids repaired and replaced as necessary.
- The audiologist will assess use and benefit derived from any intervention.
Childrens Hearing Tests
Hearing clinic tests are performed depending on your childs stage of development and their age.
Most of our testing involves play and therefore children will not realise they are actually being assessed.
Visual Reinforcement Audiometry
VRA testing is most common in children from the age of 6 months - two and a half years depending on their stage of development. Sound frequencies are presented through speakers or earphones. When the child hears the sound they are conditioned by the audiologists to turn their head for a visual reward (normally an activated toy lighting up). This test can give overall hearing results if sounds are presented through speakers and individual ear results if your child allows ear phones to be used.
Audiometry can be used from as young as two and a half years old. The audiologists condition the child to move a toy into a box when they hear a sound presented using headphones or ear phones. Older children can respond to the sounds a response button
A small vibrating device on a headband is positioned behind your childs ear. When the sounds are presented they are passed through the bone directly to the inner ear. This can establish if a hearing loss is conductive or sensori-neural.
Speech discrimination testing assesses your childs ability to listen for words at different volumes. This can be done by asking the child to identify pictures, toys or by repeating aloud the words they have heard with and without lip reading.
Tympanometry can test how the middle ear is working. An ear piece is held in the entrance of the ear canal and a small pressure of air enters the canal. This should cause the eardrum to move freely in and outward recording a change in pressure. This pressure change is measured by the ear piece. If the ear drum is not moving freely there is likely to be a fluid build up (glue ear) behind the ear drum or another problem in the middle ear. This is a very quick test.
Otoacoustic emissions (OAE), is used as part of the newborn hearing screening program which is offered to all babies shortly after birth.
They can also be measured as part of a childs hearing assessment. A small ear piece is placed in the ear and a clicking sound is played. If the cochlea is working correctly the ear piece will pick up a faint response. This response is recorded and will highlight if the child needs to be referred for further hearing testing. If the result shows a poor response this does not necessarily mean the child has a hearing loss. An unsettled child, background noise or fluid in the ear canal can cause difficulty in recording the responses from the cochlea.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
This is a specialised test and will be discussed with you if it is required before attending the childrens hearing clinic.
Four small sensors are placed on the childs head by the audiologist. To collect an accurate result the child must lay very still and quiet through the test. In young babies this test can be carried out while they are sleeping. In slightly older children a sedation or anaesthetic maybe offered.
ABR testing measures if the sound is being sent from the cochlea and through the auditory nerve to the brain.
The pinna is the outer part of the ear which catches waves of sound and directs them down into the ear canal. These sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate which travels across the middle ear by three very small bones: The Malleus, incus and stapes (Ossicular chain). The 3 middle ear bones increase the strength of these vibrations before they pass through the oval window into the cochlea in your inner ear. The cochlea looks very similar to a snail`s shell and is filled with fluid and contains thousands of hair cells. When the vibrations enter the cochlea this causes the fluid and haircells to move. These hair cells move and create an electrical charge signal. The auditory nerve carries these signals to the brain where they are then understood as sound. For the ear to work efficiently all of these described parts of the ear mechanism must work well. Deafness is caused when one or more parts of the hearing mechanism are not working correctly.
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be detected in one ear (Unilateral deafness) or both ears (Bilateral deafness) and can be congenital (deaf from birth) or acquired (Occurs or develops at some point during a persons life).
A conductive hearing loss is caused when sound is unable to pass directly through the outer and middle ear to the cochlea and auditory nerve. The most common cause of a conductive hearing loss is Otitis media (glue ear). Glue ear is a build up of fluid in the middle ear. Most children can grow out of glue ear and will not require any treatment. Some children however, do suffer with long-term glue ear where hearing aids may be an option; or the child may possibly need grommet surgery. Grommets are very small plastic tubes which are inserted into the eardrum. Grommets help to keep the middle ear ventilated helping to prevent further fluid build up.
Sensori-neural deafness is when there is a fault in the inner ear, quite often because the hair cells in the cochlea are not working correctly. The auditory nerve can also be responsible for sensori-neural deafness. A sensori-neural hearing loss is permanent. Some people who have sensori-neural deafness may also have a conductive hearing loss such as glue ear which would then be described as a mixed deafness.
Hearing Aid Repairs
If your hearing aid is lost / broken, your ear mould needs re-tubing or you require any advice or help with your hearing aid or ear mould please contact the childrens hearing clinic to arrange a repair appointment slot. Alternatively you can drop off your hearing aid at the childrens hearing clinic reception and the clinic receptionist will contact you when the repaired / replaced hearing aid is ready to collect.
Batteries are available from the childrens hearing clinic on request. Batteries can be collected from the clinic reception or telephone the clinic on: 01604 545810 and they can be posted out to you required address.
Batteries should always be kept out of your childs reach. If swallowed batteries could be harmful. If you believe a battery may have been swallowed please seek medical advice immediately. Batteries can be disposed of at most main supermarkets where they will be recycled.
Replacement batteries can be collected from the childrens hearing clinic reception. Alternatively if you contact the clinic by phone or text we will be happy to post some out to your home address. Please be advised that the batteries will be posted using 2nd class post.
Impressions for new ear moulds can be arranged by telephone the clinic reception on: 01604 545810. Ear can be manufactured in a range of colours and some picture logos are available. Your ear moulds can be collected from the clinic reception on their return from the manufactures, posted out to your home address from the childrens hearing clinic or if requested in advance the ear moulds can be posted to you directly from the ear mould manufacturer.
Change in hearing?
If you are a hearing aid wearer and you feel your hearing has changed or you notice a change in your childs hearing. Please telephone the clinic to arrange an appointment for the hearing aid and the ears to be checked. An appointment to re-test the hearing may also be required.
What you can do to help look after your hearing aid?
- Maintain good ear hygiene to assist in keeping your ear mould clean and dry.
- If the hearing aid is not being worn eg bedtime, swimming, bathing. Please store your hearing aid in a safe container with the battery door open. Please keep your hearing aid out of reach from siblings and house hold pets to prevent damage.
- Make sure before touching the hearing aid, your fingers are clean and dry. Your hearing aid microphone is very small and can easily become blocked if handled without care.
- Try to avoid dropping your hearing aid which can easily happen if you are cleaning the aid or changing the battery.
- Please protect your hearing aid from excessive temperatures. Protect the hearing aid from direct sunlight and do not keep them within close proximity of heaters.
- Avoid make-up, hair sprays and products coming into contact with your hearing aid as this may cause damage to the microphone and/or volume control.
- Protect your hearing aid from moisture. Water condensation may damage the hearing aid electronics. A drying pot is available from your hearing clinic on request.
- Your hearing aid can be wiped daily with a moist cleaning cloth. In order for your hearing aid to work efficiently it needs to be kept free of ear wax and other debris.
Possible causes of hearing aid break down.
Hearing aid seems quieter than usual?
- The hole or tube of the hearing aid could be blocked - clean the tube of the hearing aid with a small brush or sewing needle. Blow out any condensation with a puffer (available in your hearing clinic on request).
- The microphone opening may be blocked - contact your hearing-care professional
- The battery level is too low - Replace the battery
The hearing aid is whistling during use?
Feedback (whistling) from your hearing aid occurs when the amplified sound from the hearing aid leaks out of the ear and back into your hearing aid microphone. Possible solutions for this are as follows:
- The hearing aid/ear mould is not inserted properly into the ear - Remove and insert again, ask your hearing clinic for advice if you require further instruction.
- The hearing aid is positioned in the wrong ear - insert it into the other ear
- The ear mould is possibly loose or damaged and you may require a new ear mould impression
- The sound tube is blocked and must be cleaned
- The sound tube on the ear mould is damaged and must be re-tubed
- The ear canal is blocked with wax - Ref to wax management advice
My hearing aid does not fit correctly
It is difficult to insert the hearing aid/ear mould
Apply a small amount of lubricant to the ear mould. Your hearing clinic can offer you further advice regarding this.
The hearing aid isn't working properly
- The battery is empty - replace it with a new one
- The battery has fallen out - Replace battery in your hearing aid
- The battery compartment is not closed properly - close the battery compartment
- The ear mould is blocked with wax - if you are unable to clean contact the childrens hearing clinic
The hearing aid causes discomfort/pain
- The hearing aid/ear mould may not be positioned correctly in the ear - remove the hearing aid/ear mould and reposition it. If the problem persists, consult the childrens hearing clinic.
Cleaning your ear mould
Custom made ear moulds should be cleaned at least once a week. If the ear mould tubing becomes discoloured or hardens, the tubing needs to be replaced.
Separate the ear mould from the hearing aid by pulling the tubing away from the plastic elbow of the hearing aid. Hold onto the elbow with one hand and the tubing with the other as this will prevent the tubing coming out of the ear mould or any damage being caused to the hearing aid.
The ear mould can be washed in warm soapy water. You can use a nail brush to remove any wax and let the water run through the tube from the tap to clean the tubing through. Rinse the ear mould in clean water and shake the mould to help remove any excess water. Leave the ear mould to dry. When the ear mould is completely dry re-attach it to the hearing aid elbow making sure if using two hearing aids the left and right ear moulds are attached to the corresponding hearing aids.
Deaf awareness & communication
Deafness can range from mild to total deafness. Some people may use sign language, some people lip read and some can speak to you. Don't be afraid to ask them how they prefer to communicate.
If you are talking to a hearing impaired person:
- Get their attention first - If the person is not aware you are speaking to them they will miss part or all of what you are saying.
- Be Seen - A hearing impaired person needs to be able to see your face to help them understand what you are saying.
- Speak Clearly - Use natural gestures when speaking and maintain the speed you are talking so it is not too fast for them to understand. Use visual clues, point to what you are talking about.
- Be Patient - Don't be afraid to ask if you are not sure if you are being understood. Ask them to repeat what you have said if you are unsure they have understood.
- Background Noise - Try to keep background noise to a minimum if you are speaking to someone with a hearing loss as they will find it more difficult to listen.
- Walk around while speaking
- Shout or speak too slowly as this can cause difficulty in lip reading.
- Do not stand with your back towards the light as this will cause your face to be in a shadow.
- Don't ramble, get straight to the point.
- Don't cover your mouth when talking. Don't give up, try writing down what you want to say or you could use a mobile phone to text.
Newborn hearing screening
If you require information regarding the newborn hearing screening service at Northampton General Hospital please click here.
Or for more information about the NHSP national service please use the below links.
NHSP national service - Gov.uk
NHSP national service - NHS.uk