Hearing disorders affect millions of Americans, and many of the causes of hearing loss are incurable. However, patients can restore some or even all of their lost hearing abilities through treatment—and in many cases, the treatments are painless and provide patients with a better understanding of their conditions.
Common Treatments for Mild to Moderate Hearing Problems
Patients who have a slight hearing loss, are unable to hear high frequencies, or have hearing issues caused by the natural aging process are good candidates for non-surgical hearing loss treatments. The most common options include one or more of the following:
- Hearing aids. Hearing devices amplify the sounds around you, making up for the damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. These assistive devices can hook over the ear or be inserted directly in the ear canal, come in a variety of sizes and colors, and are custom-fit to each patient depending on their type of hearing loss. Hearing aids are designed to pick up and amplify speech sounds, prioritizing communication and understanding with the people around you. Many of these devices have the ability to be paired with cell phones and televisions, and others come with remote controls so that patients can adjust their hearing aids without removing them.
- Rehabilitation. Auditory rehabilitation helps patients adjust to life with hearing loss. In hearing rehabilitation sessions, patients can receive training to improve their communication with others, learn how to get more out of their hearing aids, explore other types of assistive devices, and learn how to manage frustrations and challenges caused by hearing loss. These services are personalized based on each patient’s needs.
- Group therapy. Hearing loss is difficult for a patient, but can also place a strain on relationships with friends and family members. In group hearing rehabilitation sessions, family members can get a better understanding what their loved one is going through. Hearing therapists often have hearing loss simulators to show family members how the patient hears, helping them to communicate with a hearing loss sufferer more effectively.
Surgical Options to Correct Severe Hearing Loss
In some cases, patients will have such severe hearing loss that conservative treatments will not make a difference. These people may benefit from surgically-implanted hearing devices, which are placed deep in a patient’s ear to augment the hearing process from inside.
- Middle ear implants. Patients with extensive sensorineural hearing loss may hear better with middle ear implants. These small devices are attached to one of the bones in the middle ear, increasing their movements and funneling sound vibrations to the cochlea. These implants are almost completely invisible to the naked eye, and many can be left in place during swimming or showering.
- Bone-anchored hearing aids. These devices are recommended for patients who have chronic ear infections, have hearing loss on one side only, have narrow or misshapen ear canals, or have severe conductive hearing loss. Bone-anchored hearing aids require delicate implantation into a bone just behind the affected ear, sending sound waves through the skull to the cochlea.
- Cochlear implants. These implants work much differently than other assistive devices, and are used only in patients who are completely deaf or have suffered extensive damage to the inner ear. A cochlear implant completely bypasses the structures of the ear, sending sounds directly to the brain via the auditory nerve. A surgeon will implant a transmitter under a patient’s skin and electrodes inside the inner ear. Patients connect the device through a small disc that magnetically attaches to their head. The sounds received through a cochlear implant are not the same as those received through hearing aids, so it can take time and patience to learn how to adapt to life with a cochlear implant.
Not sure which method of hearing loss treatment is right for you? Call the number on this page or click on the appointment tab above to speak with a hearing care professional at our office nearest you!