How do you choose a dress for yourself? Do you pick and buy the first dress you see? Obviously, not. You first try it on, see if it fits, and also if it looks good on you.
The bottom line is, you will check different alternatives, before choosing the one that’s best for you.
Treating hearing loss, too, is a process that doesn’t follow the ‘one-size-fits-all’ theory.
It involves diagnosing the type and degree of hearing loss, and then deciding if it can be cured with medical intervention, or can only be treated using hearing instruments like hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM systems, etc.
Additionally, the affected individual would need to follow up with the audiologist for the fittings and adjustment to make sure that the hearing aid suits the affected individual’s needs.
It is not necessary that all kinds of hearing loss can be treated through the use of hearing aids. The treatment of hearing loss depends entirely on the diagnosis, and on the severity of the condition. Let’s try and understand how each type of hearing loss can be treated.
Treatments For Different Kinds Of Hearing Loss
There are three basic kinds of hearing loss, namely, sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss. The treatment depends upon the extent and severity of the hearing loss.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss: When hearing loss is due to problems in the inner ear, also called nerve-related hearing loss.
- Conductive Hearing Loss: When hearing loss is due to problems with the ear canal, eardrum, or middle ear and its little bones (the malleus, incus and stapes).
- Mixed Hearing Loss: This kind of hearing loss is caused owing to damage in the outer or middle ear, and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve.
Let’s understand the various types of treatment available for these different kinds of hearing loss.
1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss:
Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noise, head trauma, presbycusis, disorders such as Meniere’s Disease or Otosclerosis*, tumours, heredity, etc. Here are some of the treatments recommended for this type of hearing loss are mentioned below:
Caused by Acoustic Trauma:
- Sensorineural hearing loss can result from acoustic trauma (or exposure to excessively loud noise).
- May respond to medical therapy with corticosteroids to reduce cochlear hair cell swelling and inflammation to improve healing of these injured inner ear structures.
Caused by Head Trauma:
- Sensorineural hearing loss can occur from head trauma or abrupt changes in air pressure such as in aeroplane descent, which can cause inner ear fluid compartment rupture or leakage, which can be toxic to the inner ear.
- This can be treated with surgery.
Caused by Viral Infection:
- Sudden sensorineural hearing loss, presumed to be of viral origin, is an otologic emergency.
- This can be medically treated with corticosteroids.
Caused by Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease:
- Bilateral progressive hearing loss over several months, also diagnosed as autoimmune inner ear disease, is when the body’s immune system misdirects its defences against the inner ear structures to cause damage in this part of the body.
- This can be managed medically with long-term corticosteroids and sometimes with drug therapy.
Caused by Meniere’s Disease:
- Fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss may be from an unknown cause or associated with Meniere’s Disease. Symptoms of Meniere’s disease are hearing loss, tinnitus (or ringing in the ears), and vertigo.
- Meniere’s disease may be treated medically with a low-sodium diet, diuretics, and corticosteroids. If the vertigo is not medically controlled, then various surgical procedures are used to eliminate vertigo.
Caused by Tumours:
- Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by tumours of the balance nerve adjacent to the hearing nerve.
- This may or may not be reversed with surgical removal or irradiation of these benign tumours.
Caused by Disease In The Central Nervous System:
- Sensorineural hearing loss could also be caused owing to disease in the central nervous system.
- This kind of hearing loss may respond to medical management for the specific disease affecting the nervous system. For example, hearing loss secondary to multiple sclerosis may be reversed with treatment for multiple sclerosis.
Irreversible sensorineural hearing loss, the most common form of hearing loss, may be managed with hearing aids. When hearing aids are not enough, this type of hearing loss can be surgically treated with cochlear implants.
*Otosclerosis is a hereditary disorder in which a bony growth forms around a small bone in the middle ear, preventing it from vibrating when stimulated by sound.
2. Conductive Hearing Loss:
Conductive hearing loss can be caused by malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear structures, fluid in the middle ear, allergies, poor Eustachian tube function, infection in the ear canal, perforated eardrum, etc.
Caused by Congenital Absence of Ear Canal, Malformation, or Dysfunction of the Middle Ear Structures:
- Types of conductive hearing loss include congenital absence of ear canal or failure of the ear canal to be open at birth, malformation, or dysfunction of the middle ear structures.
- All of these may possibly be surgically corrected. If these are not amenable to successful surgical correction, then the hearing alternatively may be improved with amplification with a bone conduction hearing aid, or a conventional hearing aid, depending on the status of the hearing nerve.
Caused by Infections:
- Conductive hearing loss may be caused by chronic ear infections, chronic middle fluid, tumours, etc.
- Acute infections are usually treated with antibiotics or antifungal medications. Chronic ear infections, chronic middle fluid, and tumours usually require surgery. If there is no response to initial medical therapy, infectious middle ear fluid is usually treated with antibiotics, while chronic non-infectious middle ear fluid is treated with surgery (or pressure equalizing tubes).
Caused by Head Trauma:
- Conductive hearing loss could result from head trauma.
- This is frequently amenable to surgical repair of the damaged middle ear structures, performed after the patient’s general medical status is stabilized following acute traumatic injuries.
Caused by Otosclerosis:
- A genetic form of conductive hearing loss is otosclerosis, in which there is a bony fixation of the stapes (the third little bone of hearing in the middle ear), where sound can’t get to the middle ear. Otosclerosis usually presents with hearing loss in early adulthood.
- Otosclerosis can successfully be managed with surgery to replace the immobile stapes with a mobile stapes prosthesis or with a hearing aid.
3. Mixed Hearing Loss:
Mixed hearing loss is best treated by tackling the conductive component first, with medical or surgical treatment. Combining it with hearing aids can help treat it.
Treating hearing loss is not just about finding the right hearing aids – it depends on the diagnosis by the audiologist, and choosing from the treatments suitable for different kinds of hearing loss. It will also depend on the severity of the hearing loss, and the unique requirements and environment of the affected individual.
If you, or a loved one, are suffering from hearing loss, get in touch with Centre For Hearing! With our comprehensive diagnostic facilities, we offer the best solutions for the different kinds of hearing loss!
Call us on +91 9811227269 for a FREE CONSULTATION!