Hearing loss is one of the most common forms of sensory impairment in humans and affects more than 40 million people in the US alone. WHO reports that over 1 billion people aged 12-35 years are at risk of losing their hearing due to excessive and prolonged exposure to loud music, so they should follow the standards for safe listening at venues and events.
Those that already experience hearing loss should know that advances in medicine and technology have led to plenty of great treatments for their problem. However, treatments usually depend on the cause and severity of the hearing loss.
Read on to learn a few of the most popular options for hearing loss.
A hearing aid is a great solution for those that experience hearing loss due to damage to their inner ear. A hearing care professional can recommend hearing aids and will work with you to calibrate them to your specific hearing loss. However, people still want to know how do hearing aids work? Hearing aids are worn behind the ear or inside the outer ear canal. They come in many styles depending on the severity of your hearing loss, ranging from behind-the-ear devices to completely-in-the-canal hearing aids.
They consist of four components, including a microphone, amplifier, speaker, and power source. The basic purpose of these devices is to amplify sounds, and they’re mostly used for sensorineural hearing loss. Today’s hearing aids can be highly customized to your specific hearing needs, which means they can amplify the sounds you need to hear while minimizing the ones you don’t. Keep in mind that an audiologist will help you select the best option for your hearing loss. They will also show you how to wear it, ensure that it fits comfortably, and program it to your specific pattern of hearing loss.
For people with more severe hearing loss that have limited benefits from conventional hearing aids, a cochlear implant may be the best option. These are unique, electronic devices and unlike a hearing aid, which amplifies the sound, they transmit an electric signal directly to the inner ear. A surgeon will implant the internal transmitter, and with regular listening therapy, you can improve your hearing and comprehension.
The goal of these devices is to allow you to improve your ability to communicate with others, which may result in improvements in your quality of life. You can discuss the risks and benefits of using cochlear implants with an audiologist, as well as your doctor that specializes in ENT disorders (ear, nose, and throat). Note that this device doesn’t restore normal hearing instead it can give a deaf person a useful representation of sounds and help them understand speech.
In cases where the hearing loss is the cause of extensive damage to the middle or outer ear, surgeons perform procedures that reconstruct the ear for better hearing. Ossiculoplasty, for instance, is the reconstruction of the middle ear ossicular chain that has been damaged or destroyed, by the use of some interposition devices. In case your hearing loss is caused by fluid in the ear, a ventilation tube is surgically implanted in the auditory tube, which will open it up so that the fluid can drain out.
Other procedures include otosclerosis, tympanoplasty, stapedotomy, and others. Note that surgery may also be necessary to remove growths in the ear such as acoustic neuromas, which may impair hearing. Cochlear implants are some of the devices that are installed surgically to treat hearing loss.
Whether you’re prescribed cochlear implants, hearing aids, or other devices, keep in mind that your brain may still be struggling to interpret what you’re hearing. Especially if you have age-related hearing loss. Research suggests that auditory training can boost auditory and brain-hearing skills. Auditory training and rehab can help the brain relearn how to process noise into sounds.
It can also be used as a tool to improve speech perception and other auditory cognitive skills in people with hearing loss. The exercises can sometimes be conducted at home. However, some are more intensive, so individuals have to visit a physical or occupational therapist. Bear in mind that even using smartphone apps or listening to audiobooks to sharpen hearing can be quite useful and reduce symptoms such as listening fatigue.
There are plenty of ear conditions that can be improved with medication alone but if you’re dealing with serious hearing loss, you must consult with your doctor and decide on an appropriate solution. Hearing loss usually happens for various reasons, and you need to find out whether your condition can be prevented or not. The best treatment will depend on multiple factors, unique to the individual’s circumstances.