What Types of Hearing Loss Can Be Treated?
There are many treatment options available to achieve better hearing, slow down hearing loss, or even restore hearing. This is why it is extremely important to seek professional help as soon as possible for the best treatment options.
There are three types of hearing loss, in which they are treatable and managed. Even if your hearing loss is severe, there are options to manage the degree of hearing loss and provide a better quality of life. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the best thing to do is to contact a hearing specialist and schedule a hearing evaulation.
Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss is caused by problems with your ear canal, ear drum, or your middle ear and the little bones that are located in the ears.
What causes conductive hearing loss?
- Malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or the structure of the middle ear
- Poor Eustachian tube function
- Perforated eardrum
- Foreign objects
- Benign tumors or fleshy growths
- Otosclerosis: a small bony growth in your ear.
- Ear wax buildup
- An ear infection
- Allergies or reactions
- Fluid in the middle ear I.e. From an infection
Treating hearing loss
- Hearing aids– Patients who have conductive hearing loss often find hearing aids the most suitable, non-invasion treatment method.
- Medication- As one of the causes of conductive hearing loss is ear infection, your family doctor may prescribe medication such as antibiotics or antifungal. Once your body recovers, you should see an immediate improvement to your hearing.
- Surgery– If the hearing loss is caused by a damaged eardrum or damaged bones in the middle ear, surgery may be recommended by your doctor.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss is caused by problems of your inner ear, also known as nerve related hearing loss.
The causes of sensorineural hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noise and sounds
- Malformation of the inner ear
- Head trauma
- Illnesses or infections
- Autoimmune inner ear disease (A rare disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your inner ear by mistake)
- Ménière’s disease (A disorder that is caused by fluid buildup in the chambers in the inner ear)
Treating hearing loss
When someone is diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, the severity can impact the treatment options. It is important to seek treatment early to prevent permanent hearing loss.
- Hearing aids are definitely an option to consider. Whether your hearing loss is slight or profound, hearing aids are a good first option when considering treatment. Hearing aids provide better sound quality, making it easy to understand others when being talked to and being aware of your surroundings.
- Implants are another option to consider. Bone-anchored hearing aids sit in the bone behind your ear and may be a great choice for those whom an ear-worn device is not appropriate.
Other treatment options for sensorineural hearing loss
- Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (Also known as SSHL), is considered to be a viral origin, this is treated with an otologic emergency that is medically treated with corticosteroids.
- Corticosteroids can also be used to reduce the cochlea hair cell swelling and inflammation after being exposed to loud noise. Corticosteroids is any group of steroid hormones that is produced in the adrenal cortex or made synthetically. There are two different kinds: glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. They have various metabolic functions and some are used to treat inflammation.
- Sensorineural hearing loss can occur from trauma to the head or abrupt changes in air pressure (for example; airplane descent), which can cause inner ear fluid compartment rupture or leakage. This can be toxic to the inner ear. There has been variable success with emergency surgery when this happens.
- Bilateral progressive hearing loss over several months, also known as autoimmune inner ear disease, is managed medically with long-term corticosteroids and sometimes with drug therapy as well. Autoimmune inner ear disease is when the body’s immune system mistakes its defenses against the inner ear structures to cause damage in this part of the body.
- Fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss may be from an unknown cause or it can be associated with Ménière’s disease. Symptoms of Meniere’s disease include hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and vertigo. Ménière’s disease may be treated medically with a low-sodium diet, diuretics, and corticosteroids. If the vertigo is not controlled medically, then various surgical procedures are used to eliminate the vertigo.
- Sensorineural hearing loss from disease in the central nervous system may respond to medical management for the specific disease that is affecting the nervous system. For example, secondary hearing loss to multiple sclerosis may be reversed with treatment for the multiple sclerosis.
- Irreversible sensorineural hearing loss is often the most common form of hearing loss, and may be managed with hearing aids. This type of hearing loss can also be surgically treated with cochlear implants if recommended by a doctor.
If your hearing loss is severe, talk to your doctor immediately about the best option for your treatment. You often do not need invasive surgeries as hearing aids can and will cover all of your basic hearing needs.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is caused by a combination of conductive damage that is located in the outer or the middle ear and sensorineural damage in the inner ear, or damages in the auditory nerve.
Treatment for hearing loss – not only the hearing aids
- Hearing aids are often the best option to help people who have mixed hearing loss. Behind the ear style hearing aids may be prescribed, as BTE is the powerhouse most suitable for addressing this type of hearing loss.
- Another option is cochlear implants as they can be used to address the sensorineural aspect of mixed hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss can sometimes occur and be treated with surgery, usually in the case of a blockage or a tumor.
- Removing earwax– Buildup of ear wax can block the ear canal and cause temporary conductive hearing loss. It may also prevent hearing aids from being able to work correctly. Using over the counter wax removal kits or visiting a doctor are both great options for addressing the ear wax.
Hearing loss can be managed and treated. The earlier you detect the symptoms of hearing loss, the more likely you are to avoid damage that cannot be irreversible. Don’t wait, as soon as you notice the signs make an appointment and get the answers you need to start your treatment today.