Can surgery correct hearing loss?
Nearly 48 million Americans have some type of hearing loss that affects their ability to communicate effectively. If you have hearing loss, you might wonder if there are surgeries that can restore your hearing. The answer is dependent on the cause and/or location of your hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is an obstruction or damage to the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from being conducted to the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss may be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause. Sometimes medical or surgical intervention can restore hearing. Examples of causes of conductive hearing loss are wax in the ear canal or an outer or middle ear infection.
Surgeries for Conductive Hearing Loss
PE tubes – These are placed into the eardrum to ventilate and drain the middle ear and are most commonly used for chronic middle ear infections. This happens most often in children, but many adults may also experience ear infections or pressure in the ear that benefit from ventilating the middle ear space.
Stapedectomy – This surgical procedure is used for Otosclerosis and implants a prosthetic device designed to bypass abnormal hardening of the bone tissue in the middle ear.
Just as atherosclerosis causes hardening of the arteries, otosclerosis causes an abnormal hardening of the bone tissue in the middle ear. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), this condition affects as many as three million Americans and typically happens when the stapes bone located in the middle ear becomes stuck in place. When this occurs, the bone is unable to vibrate and send sound through the ear, resulting in impaired hearing.
Middle Ear Implant
A middle ear implant system is an alternative to conventional hearing devices. It is designed for individuals who cannot use hearing aids for medical reasons or who are dissatisfied with other hearing devices. They may be appropriate for Single-Sided Deafness, Skin Allergies, Draining Ears, Chronic Ear Infections
Sensorineural Hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss means the hair cells of the inner ear or the nerve pathways that connect the inner ear to the brain have been damaged. These hair cells, located in the cochlea, are responsible for translating the noise your outer ear collects into electrical impulses and then sending them along the auditory nerve for the brain to interpret as recognizable sound.
If you’ve been diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, you’re in good company. Also sometimes called “nerve deafness,” this is the most common type of hearing loss affecting adults, and it can occur for a variety of reasons — aging (presbycusis), exposure to sudden or persistently loud noise, disease and infections, head or acoustic trauma, tumors or medications.
Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent. No surgery can repair damage to the sensory hair cells themselves, but if your hearing loss is severe enough, there is a surgery that can bypass the damaged cells.
Adults and children with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss may be able to have partial hearing restored with a cochlear implant. Unlike a traditional hearing aid which amplifies sound, a cochlear implant bypasses the damaged part of the auditory system to directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
Mixed Hearing Loss
This type of loss affects both the middle ear and inner ear. Surgical options will depend on the amount of improvement that can be obtained and if hearing aids will still be needed after surgery.
Currently, surgeries for hearing loss can only correct very specific losses while people with the most common types still benefit the most from simply wearing hearing aids.
Today’s devices are sleek, discreet and technologically advanced – and no invasive surgery required! If you have hearing loss, see your audiologist regularly for hearing evaluations. If hearing aids are the best option for you, don’t delay. Complete Hearing has a solution that will fit your lifestyle, personal needs and your budget. Call us today for an appointment.