Many types of hearing loss are temporary or reversible, making them highly treatable. Depending on what caused the hearing loss and its severity, there may be several treatment options available.
Treatment for Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss can have a number of causes. Whatever the cause, the result is an interruption of the process of sound waves being conducted to the cochlea, where the sound waves are converted into signals the brain understands as sound. Some forms of conductive hearing loss are permanent, but many are temporary and treatable.
Many times the interruption is due to the presence of fluid or some type of irregularity of the bones in the middle ear. If the hearing loss is caused by fluid, the issue may or may not also include the presence of a bacterial infection. Typically, these types of hearing loss can be treated by your family doctor with antibiotics and/or the removal of earwax which could be causing a blockage in the ear canal.
If the hearing loss is due to structural issues with the bones in the middle ear, these problems can sometimes be treated surgically. Causes such as acoustic neuroma, Meniere’s disease, and otosclerosis may also be treated with medication or surgery after careful consideration on the part of the physician.
Treatment for Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is almost always permanent. It is the result of damage to or the death of tiny hair cells in the cochlea and/or the auditory nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss, sometimes called “nerve deafness,” affects both the quality and the volume of sounds heard. People with this type of hearing loss have difficulty hearing soft sounds. Moreover, the sounds they do hear are difficult to decipher, making it hard to understand what other people are saying when they speak.
While anyone can be afflicted with sensorineural hearing loss due to several different possible causes, this is the type of hearing loss most suffered by the elderly. As a person ages, the cochlea naturally becomes damaged or begins to deteriorate. In addition to the natural aging process, there are other things which can contribute to sensorineural hearing loss, such as prolonged exposure to loud noise from machinery or music, some infectious diseases, tumors, birth defects within the middle ear, and even genetics.
Permanent hearing loss such as this cannot be treated per se, but it can be managed. Depending on the nature and severity of the hearing loss, assistance may be found in the form of hearing aids, various types of hearing assistance technologies, or, in some cases, a cochlear implant which stimulates the auditory nerve directly while bypassing the damaged parts of the middle ear.
Deciding on a Treatment
The decision as to which treatment is the correct one is dependent on many factors. It all starts with your doctor and a hearing specialist, who can guide you through the necessary testing and gathering of information to make the right choice.