Treatments for Hearing Loss
Removable Hearing Aids continued...
In-the-ear. In-the-ear hearing aids help mild to severe hearing loss. Their parts are so small that they fit completely inside your outer ear. Like some behind-the-ear aids, some in-the-ear aids have a small magnetic coil, called a telecoil. Telecoils make it easier to talk on the phone. They can also pick up signals from systems called induction sound loops in some public places like churches, schools, airports, and auditoriums. In-the-ear hearing aids are not a good idea for young children because their outer ears are still growing.
In-canal. This type is best for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. They’re small enough to fit completely inside your ear canal. This means they are far less visible than other hearing aids. But their size makes them harder for some people to adjust and remove. They are also less powerful than larger hearing aids, and they usually can’t have a telecoil.
Surgically Implanted Hearing Devices
Doctors can put some hearing technologies even farther inside your ear to send increased sound vibrations to your inner ear. These options include:
Middle ear implants. A surgeon attaches a small device to one of the bones of your middle ear so it can move them directly, which sends stronger sound vibrations to the inner ear. The implants help people with sensorineural hearing loss.
Middle ear implants are one of the newest advances in hearing loss treatment. So it's important to speak to a specialist who has experience putting them in. Because they go in the middle ear, they are almost completely hidden. They also don't cause feedback and can stay in place when you swim or bathe, depending on the type of implant you have.
Bone-anchored hearing aids. These devices go into the bone behind the ear, where they transmit sound into the inner ear through the skull. Bone-anchored hearing aids are usually recommended for people with:
- Hearing loss in just one ear
- Problems with the shape of their ear canals
- Conductive or mixed hearing loss with long-term ear infections
Cochlear implants. If the inner ear has severe damage, even the most powerful hearing aid can't restore hearing. In that case, your doctor may recommend a cochlear implant. These devices bypass damaged parts of the ear and send signals directly to the auditory nerve that relays sound to the brain. A cochlear implant consists of a microphone that goes behind the ear and a transmitter that goes under the skin. Sound information goes to electrodes that a doctor puts in your inner ear through surgery.
Cochlear implants can help adults who are deaf or severely hearing-impaired. They can also help children with profound hearing loss gain better speech and language skills. But it often takes time and practice to interpret the signals they send to the brain as sound.