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Hearing Loss Treatment Information
Treatments for hearing loss vary depending on the cause of the condition.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss can sometimes be partially or fully reversed. We can remove earwax and other objects blocking your ear canal, allowing sound to reach your eardrum unimpeded. In some cases, the eardrum itself may be damaged. This may be caused by injury to your head or ear, or by sudden changes in air pressure that cause your eardrum to burst. Although it may often heal itself, we may repair your eardrum surgically to restore hearing.
Infections sometimes cause pressure in the middle or inner ear. We may treat these with drugs to reduce the pressure. Ventilation tubes inserted into the eustachian tubes (passages that lead from the ear to the back of the throat) are another treatment we may use to relieve pressure inside your ear.
Two other causes of conductive hearing loss are otosclerosis and cholesteatoma. Otosclerosis is bony overgrowth that limits the movement of tiny bones in your middle ear. This reduces transmission of sound to your inner ear. We rebuild this structure to improve hearing. Cholesteatoma is a condition in which eardrum tissue has grown over the bones in the middle ear, hindering sound transmission. We correct this condition surgically.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This is the most common form of hearing loss. It is often gradual and can be part of the natural process of aging (presbycusis) or the result of continued exposure to loud noise. Typically, sensorineural hearing loss involves loss of hair cells in the cochlea. This damage reduces the ear’s ability to transform sound waves into nerve impulses. As a result, the brain loses perception of sound.
Hearing aids can overcome some sensorineural hearing loss by amplifying sound directly into your ear canal. For severe sensorineural hearing loss, we may use a cochlear implant. This is a pair of devices, one outside the body, the other implanted in the head near the ear.
The external device receives sound and translates it into electrical impulses. These impulses are transmitted to the internal device, which then sends them directly to your auditory nerve. Hearing with a cochlear implant is different from hearing through the ear, but adults with sensorineural hearing loss usually learn to understand sounds and speech.
Cochlear implants may not be as effective for children who have not developed language ability or for adults who were born deaf or who became deaf before acquiring language. This often means they cannot develop an understanding of spoken language or translate speech into meaning. The implant still functions, but the brain is unable to recognize how the electrical impulses translate into language.
We are actively conducting research into ways to make cochlear implants better for children. Severe hearing loss hinders learning. We want to help children with severe hearing loss use their implants to overcome their difficulties.
Hearing Loss Locations & Physicians
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Hearing Loss Support Services
Hearing loss has complex effects on your life and relationships. You may be able to help yourself overcome these challenges by learning more about hearing loss and using available support services.
A Sampling of Hearing Loss Support Services
Hearing Loss Association of America
This site has extensive information about many topics related to hearing loss. There are also links to support resources.
This National Institutes of Health website hosts an overview of hearing loss, plus links to many related topics.