If you're thinking about getting treatment for hearing loss, surgery may be a great option. Surgeons who perform these procedures are called otolaryngologists, or ENTs (ear, nose, and throat doctors). And the type of surgery available to you largely depends on what type of hearing loss you have.
Your surgery may differ depending on whether your hearing issue is conductive (sounds can’t get through your outer or middle ear) or sensorineural (your inner ear is damaged), Stephen DeMari, AuD, director of business development and education at Chicago-based CaptionCall, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Conductive Hearing Loss
If you have conductive hearing loss, the following surgeries may be a possible treatment option:
- Pressure Equalization (PE) Tube Surgery: With this type of surgery, a small incision is made in the eardrum to insert the PE tube, which drains fluid built up in your middle ear. “As the eardrum heals, the PE tube either moves its way out of the ear canal, or a physician can easily remove it,” DeMari says.
- Stapedectomy: According to DeMari, sometimes extra bone grows around the stapes — one of the tiny bones in your middle ear that enables hearing. A surgeon will remove the stapes and replace it with an artificial device that allows sound waves through to the inner ear so you can hear properly.
- Middle Ear Surgery: According to DeMari, this type of surgery is for eardrum punctures or missing bones. A surgeon may close a hole in your eardrum or opt to partially or entirely replace the eardrum with tissue grafts. In a different procedure, a small prosthesis is inserted to replace one of the middle ear bones that allow hearing.
- Bone Conduction Implant: According to DeMari, your hearing is made possible both by sound waves traveling through your ear canals and by sounds vibrating through your head bones. “A bone conduction implant system can bypass damaged or blocked parts of the ear and deliver sound vibrations directly to the inner ear,” DeMari says.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
If you have sensorineural hearing loss, the following surgeries may be a possible treatment option:
- Cochlear Implant : A cochlear implant, which bypasses damaged parts of your ear and directly stimulates your auditory nerve, is different than a hearing aid that amplifies sounds. One component of the implant sits behind your ear and is joined by a magnet to another component that is surgically inserted beneath your scalp, according to DeMari.
- Implantable Hearing Aid: A surgeon may recommend an implant “that provides a sensation of sound to a person who has severe hearing loss and damage to the inner ear, or cochlea, and auditory nerve,” DeMari says. Like cochlear implants, the device has an external component and another inserted below the skin.
- Bone Conduction Implant: A doctor may also recommend this implant when your inner ear — rather than your outer or middle ear — is damaged. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, a sound processor is combined with a small implant behind the ear to transfer sounds.
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.