Hearing Problems And Their Treatment

A hearing problem occurs when there is damage to the ear or one of its parts. Hearing problems may be congenital or may be the result of an accident or an illness and are classified under three groups: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.

Conductive Hearing Loss

A conductive hearing loss is the result of a problem with the outer or middle ear, which could be either a blockage or structural problem. This interferes with sound conduction, making the sounds heard lower than normal. Conductive hearing loss can be repaired with surgery or medications.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This type of hearing problem is the result of damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve or the vestibucochlear nerve. In most cases the cause is the damage to the tiny hair cells of the Organ of Corti in the cochlea. This damage may be present at birth or may be due to an accident during the lifetime of the individual. A common cause for this type of hearing loss is the prolonged exposure to very loud noise, as what often happens with the constant use of headphones on full blast for a few hours.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and involves both the inner and middle ear. People with mixed hearing loss may require a combination of treatments like surgery and the use of digital hearing aids/ cochlear implants.

Treatment For Hearing Loss

The treatment for hearing problems starts with an accurate diagnosis. Changes in hearing quality often will necessitate a trip to the doctor’s office for a check-up and to find out what is causing the hearing loss. After a diagnosis has been made, treatment for the underlying condtion is often done, or patients are fitted with a digital hearing aid. In some cases, a hearing aid is the only option for persons with hearing problems, especially for people with sensorineural hearing loss.

Hearing aids are devices which work to amplify sound. Another option is a cochlear implant, which is a device for people with severe hearing problems. They have been in use since the 1960’s and are implanted under the skin and into the inner ear. Once the incision has healed, an outer device is placed on the skin over the implant and turned on. Cochlear devices allow totally deaf people to hear common household sounds, understand speech, and even talk on the phone.