Treatments for Hearing Loss
Advances in medicine and technology have led to many new treatments for hearing loss. With so many to choose from, how can you know which one is best for you? The choice depends in part on the kind of hearing loss you have.
Conductive hearing loss happens when the outer or middle ear can’t conduct sound to the inner ear.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear or auditory nerve no longer detects sound waves normally.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
No matter what type of hearing loss you have, there are treatment options that can help you.
Removable Hearing Aids
Hearing aids amplify sounds and make them easier for the inner ear to detect. The electronic parts of hearing aids are typically either analog or digital.
Analog hearing aids convert sound into electrical signals, then make them louder. They work like a microphone attached to an amplifier. You can program them for different environments, such as a small room or a crowded restaurant.
Digital hearing aids convert sound into a code of numbers, then change them back into sound. You can program them to amplify only the frequencies where you have hearing loss. In general, digital hearing aids give you more flexibility than the analog kind. But they also cost more.
Both analog and digital hearing aids come in many different models, including:
Behind-the-ear. Best for mild to severe hearing loss, this type of hearing aid includes a plastic case that holds its electronic parts, which you wear behind your ear. The sound is transmitted through an ear mold that you put into your outer ear. Because behind-the-ear aids are relatively large, they are powerful.
Open-fit. Like the behind-the-ear type, you wear open-fit hearing aids behind your ear. They relay sounds through a narrow tube that you put into your ear canal. Unlike behind-the-ear aids, open-fit aids allow the canal to stay open. Some people prefer them because:
- They don't give you a "plugged-up" feeling.
- They are less prone to damage from earwax.
- They are smaller, which makes them harder to see.