Hearing loss is a common condition that affects hearing, communication and social skills. Treatment options for hearing loss may be as simple as removing excess earwax, treating the underlying condition (such as fluid in the ear), or using hearing aids. More complex options include surgery or a cochlear implant.
Read on to learn more about hearing loss treatment options.
Is there a cure for hearing loss?
The underlying cause and type of your hearing loss will determine whether it can be cured.
Conductive hearing loss is usually caused by excess earwax or fluid in the ear and can usually be cured.
Another major type of hearing loss, sensory Hearing loss, usually due to hearing problems cochleaor the auditory nerve, and are more likely to be permanent.
Prevalence of hearing loss
In the United States, 13% of people over the age of 12 have some degree of hearing loss in both ears. Older adults have a higher incidence of hearing loss. About 25% of people over the age of 65 and 50% of people over the age of 75 have debilitating hearing loss.
There are many ways to remove earwax, but not all of them are safe.
If you want to try earwax removal at home, there are over-the-counter (OTC) removal drops that are safe for people who have not had ear surgery.
Do not use cotton swabs or insert foreign objects such as paper clips into your ears to remove earwax. The practice of ear candling – where a lit hollow candle is placed into the ear canal to suck out earwax – is also discouraged.
If you have enough earwax to reduce your hearing, you may have a blockage. If so, it is best to have it treated by a healthcare provider.They usually use special tools to remove earwax, such as curette (small spatula).
Hearing aids are devices that amplify sound. They are worn either behind the ear or in the external ear canal. They are a good option for people with more permanent hearing loss.
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles and include features such as Bluetooth. These devices continue to improve in functionality.
Conductive hearing loss can be operated on. For example, if your hearing loss is caused by fluid in your ear, surgically implanting a ventilation tube in the hearing tube will open it up so the fluid can drain.
otosclerosis, a condition in which the bones in the ear grow abnormally, causing damage to the tiny bones in the ear that are needed for hearing. This condition is another cause of hearing loss that can be treated with surgery. Bone can be removed to improve hearing.
Surgery may also be needed to remove growths in the ear, such as acoustic neuroma, which can damage hearing. There are also special types of hearing aids that are surgically implanted.
Installing a cochlear implant is a common surgical procedure to treat hearing loss.
A cochlear implant is a device that stimulates the cochlear nerve. Recommended only for people with sensorineural hearing loss that cannot be helped by conventional hearing aids. It consists of multiple parts:
- The outer part behind the ear is responsible for picking up sound and transmitting it to the inside of the device.
- Inside the cochlear implant are wires and electrodes that send signals directly to the cochlear nerve. The inner part must be surgically placed under the skin (also behind the ear).
A cochlear implant will gradually allow you to understand speech better, but most people need rehabilitation to get the most out of their cochlear implant.
Not all types of hearing loss are preventable.
However, one of the most common types of hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss, can be prevented. Sounds of 85 decibels or higher can damage your hearing. Activities that may expose you to this level of noise include:
- shooting target
- Go to the movies
- Listen to earbuds or headphones at maximum volume
- mowing the lawn
- Use a recreational vehicle such as a motorcycle or snowmobile
- use certain power tools
The longer you are exposed to loud noises, the more likely you are to suffer from noise-induced hearing loss. Therefore, you should limit your exposure time and wear appropriate ear protection, such as earplugs, if necessary.
You can also protect your hearing by avoiding medications known to cause hearing loss and by seeking prompt treatment for ear problems, such as ear infections or fluid in the ear.
Sudden hearing loss should be evaluated immediately by a healthcare provider.
The best treatment for hearing loss depends on a variety of factors that are unique to the individual situation.Patients will need to contact their healthcare provider or Audiologist Develop a treatment plan that best suits their individual needs. Common treatment options include hearing aids, wax removal, implants, or surgery.
Not only is hearing loss frustrating, it can lead to social isolation and lead to depression, anxiety, and even cognitive decline. Early and adequate treatment can prevent further hearing loss, as well as the psychological problems associated with it. Improving your communication and social skills through therapy will improve your quality of life.
If you have incurable hearing loss, there are other options for improving your communication skills. These include working with a speech therapist, learning sign language or lip reading, and using advanced technological devices to improve communication.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does research show about hearing loss?
Research shows that hearing loss is common, more likely to occur in older age groups, and can lead to social isolation, mental health challenges and cognitive problems. Research has also shown that proper treatment can minimize the harmful effects of hearing loss.
What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be inherited and present at birth, or it can be the result of a medical condition, such as fluid in the ear. Over time, the natural aging process and exposure to loud noises can also cause hearing loss.
What causes hearing loss in one ear?
Hearing loss that affects only one ear is more likely to be due to an underlying medical condition, such as fluid in the ear, ear infection, excess earwax, cholesteatoma, or Menell’s disease.
What percentage of people with hearing loss are considered legally deaf?
It depends where you live. In the United States, being legally deaf is defined by individual states. Many states consider legal deafness as hearing loss of 70 decibels or more and the ability to understand 50 percent or less of speech when using hearing aids.