Hearing loss can happen due to aging, noise exposure, genes or disease. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, around 15% of Americans over 18 have some hearing issue. Recommended treatment options will depend on the cause and type of hearing loss.
Common Treatments for Hearing Loss
- Medications: If hearing loss is due to bacterial infection, antibiotics often are prescribed to treat the infection.
- Surgery: Surgery may be recommended if there are issues with the eardrum or bones inside the ear.
- Hearing aids: If you can’t hear because of damage to your inner ear, a hearing aid can help. These are small electronic devices that make sounds louder and clearer.
There are different types of hearing aids available. They include:
- Behind the ear (BTE): These are most common and are worn behind the ears.
- Receiver in the ear (RITE): These are similar but smaller and less visible than BTE hearing aids.
- In the ear (ITE): These fit near the opening of the ear.
- In the canal (ITC): These fit inside the ear canal and are slightly visible.
- Completely in the canal (CIC) and invisible in the canal (IIC): These are the smallest type of hearing aids. They fit further into the ear canal and are almost invisible.
- Contralateral routing of signal (CROS): These are specialized hearing aids used when you have a profound hearing loss only in one ear and allow sound from the non-hearing side to be routed to the functional ear.
- Bilateral Contralateral routing of signal (BiCROS): This is another specialized type of hearing aid that is used when there is a profound hearing loss on one side and the better ear also requires amplification. It amplifies sound from both sides in only the better ear.
If your hearing loss is severe, a hearing aid may not be enough. You may need a hearing implant. It is a small device that is surgically fitted inside or on the skull. There are four types:
- Cochlear implant: If you are severely hard-of-hearing, your doctor may recommend a cochlear implant. It is a small electronic device that bypasses the damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulates your hearing nerve. It has two parts: an outer part that fits behind the ear and an inner part that is implanted under the skin.
- Bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA): Your doctor may recommend a BAHA if you cannot use conventional hearing aids. A BAHA converts sound into vibrations that are sent to the inner ear through the skull. It bypasses the outer as well as the middle ear.
- Middle ear implants (MEI): These are newer alternatives to conventional hearing aids. They have an outer part that picks up sound and an implanted part that makes bones in the ear vibrate. They are recommended if you have an obstruction in the outer or middle ear.
- Auditory brainstem implants (ABI): You may need ABIs if your hearing nerve is damaged. They bypass the inner ear and hearing nerve and directly send signals to the brain stem. They have a surgically implanted part with a thin wire that extends to the brain stem.
Hearing Loss Can Be Treated and Managed.
In many cases, hearing loss is a treatable condition. It is worth taking the time out to get the answers and treatment you or your loved one deserves. Don’t wait. Start today.