Hearing loss is a medical condition that more than 45 million people in the US alone have, and while there is no known cure, there are treatments available for each type of case. Hearing aids are often produce good outcomes for those with hearing loss ranging from moderate to serious. However, hearing aids may not be the best option for every type or level of hearing loss, and some people may want to try different alternatives. For some, the answer is cochlear implants. Whether the doctor suggests one treatment or another, it is important for the patient to have all of the options made clear to them in order to make an informed choice. If you or someone you love is experiencing hearing loss, this may help you understand the levels of treatment and possibilities available.
First off, let’s understand what hearing loss means. There are two common types of hearing loss:
Sensiorineural hearing loss occurs when a person has an auditory nerve, inner ear, or brain issue that hinder the detection of sounds waves. Conductive hearing loss occurs when a person’s outer or middle ear cannot bring sound waves to the inner ear due to blocked or damaged ear canals or structures. Some patients may have both types of hearing loss, which can affect the types of treatment work for their particular case.
When treating hearing loss, consulting with your primary physician should be the first step. The physician will be able to run simple tests and look for obvious damage or blockage within the ears that would hinder hearing abilities. If there is obvious blockage by ear wax or an infection of the ear canals, treatment and/or medications can be given by the physician in hopes of alleviating the hearing problems the patient is experiencing. If there is no sign of any problem in the ear, the doctor may recommend you visit an audiologist or an ENT specialist for further testing.
An audiologist is a specialist in diagnosing, treating, and monitoring auditory disorders, including hearing loss. The audiologist will run more tests to determine whether the condition is symptomatic of hearing loss, and if so, they can determine the extent of the hearing loss. He or she may also recommend a treatment plan that can include hearing aids or mapping and inserting a cochlear implant. They can also address tinnitus, or ringing of the ears, and well as balance issues that may be associated with hearing loss. The audiologist helps new parents cope with the hearing loss of their young child, as well as teaching elderly patients how to continue life with their hearing loss. From beginning to end, an audiologist is a great player to have on your team to a better quality of life with hearing loss!
Hearing loss treatment options can also require medical treatment from an ear-nose-throat (ENT) doctor to address the physical causes and/or effects of hearing loss. An expert in medical and surgical treatment of the ears, nose, and throat, these specialists are trained to treat a wide range of conditions, including hearing loss. Technically known as an otolaryngologist, these specialists can address the medical issues that may be causing or exacerbating the patient’s hearing loss. Whether it is pain or swelling of the ear, ENTs are trained to treat diseases and conditions that cause hearing loss, and can work with the patient to establish a treatment regiment or process that is best. They may also suggest surgical options, which they can also perform.
Hearing Loss Treatment Options:
When it comes to treatment options for hearing loss, there are many ways to treat it. The most common treatments for hearing loss are:
- Removing Ear Wax: When ear wax is blocking the inner ear from receiving sound waves, a doctor can use either a scraping technique or a suction technique to remove the ear wax and clear out the ear canals, drastically improving the hearing ability of the patient.
- Hearing aids: There are many styles of hearing aids to choose from that can aid each patient’s specific type of hearing loss. Typically, hearing aids carry sounds in the environment through a microphone or microphones which are converted into electrical signals that are then, based on your hearing needs and levels, changed into sound waves amplified back into your ears through a speaker or speakers. Hearing aids can come in many styles: CIC (Completely In the Canal), ITC (In The Canal), ITE (In The Ear), BTE (Behind The Ear), and Open Fit.
- Cochlear Implants: For a patient with moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss, a cochlear implants replaces the normal sound waves with electrical signals that stimulate the auditory nerve directly. One part of the implant is surgically placed under the skin, and the second part sits behind the ear or connected to the implant in some way. Instead of completely restoring hearing, the cochlear implants helps the patient understand and take in the sounds in their environment and better understand speech.
- Surgical Options: If there is physical damage to the ear drum or bones, surgery is one option to consider. Also, if the patient has chronic ear infections, tubes can be surgically placed in their ears to provide drainage and prevent excessive hearing loss.
If you or someone you care for has any level of hearing loss, the treatment options may seem endless, and the process may seem daunting. But, a path to improved hearing is possible and more promising than ever before! Everything you’ve HEARD about Camellia ENT is true! The professionals at Camellia ENT are ready to help you with your hearing problems, and improve the quality of your life!