There are many variables to consider when it comes to diagnosing and understanding hearing loss. Causes can include things like an infection, the build-up of fluids, a growth, and aging, to name a few. In some cases, antibiotics will be prescribed to see if the patient experiences improvement. In other situations, a non-prescription or custom-made hearing aid might be recommended. Lastly, when other solutions don't provide the results needed, an audiologist will often recommend surgery. These are three of the most common surgeries:
This small implant consists of two small pieces that work in unison to aid individuals who have lost nearly all of their hearing abilities. The internal piece is implanted during surgery. Following the procedure, the external piece is attached using a coil and magnet. Once complete, the device sends messages directly to the hearing nerve, bypassing the damaged inner ear cells. It enables patients to hear common, everyday sounds around them.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks to consider. First, natural hearing capabilities are destroyed during surgery, meaning that all audio capabilities will be dependent on the device. This is not a reversible procedure. Also, the sounds produced sound different than the natural sounds one hears, and it may take a while to adjust. Lastly, ringing in the ear, dizziness, bleeding, and other side effects are possible.
This minimally invasive procedure can be done as an outpatient procedure in most circumstances. During the operation, the surgeon mends a damaged eardrum, ossicles, or mastoid bone. The patient may not know if it was successful until several weeks after the procedure. A middle ear infection is possible and restored healing cannot be guaranteed.
A small incision made in the eardrum allows the audiologist to vacuum excess liquid from the inner ear. In some cases, a small plastic tube is implanted, which enables fluid to move out of the middle ear and dry up. This relieves pain and pressure and can lead to improved hearing. Possible side effects include worsening of audio problems, thickening of the eardrum, or eardrum perforation.
In additional, browse our additional resources on audiology and hearing loss.