The term “hearing loss” is a generic term that encompasses any decline in the ability to hear, whether temporary or for a lifetime. It has many possible causes, including aging, trauma to the ear, ear infections, chronic exposure to loud noise, some toxins and medications, and illnesses that damage the inner ear.
What are the types of hearing loss?
Hearing loss falls into four categories:
- Conductive is caused by problems with the eardrum, ear canal, or middle ear.
- Semi-neural is caused by a problem with the nerves in the ear, usually from damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear.
- Mixed is a combination of conductive and semi-neural.
- Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder refers to a condition in which sound enters the ear normally but cannot properly transmit to the brain to be understood.
Multiple treatment techniques are available; the technique chosen will depend on the type and cause.
How is conductive hearing loss treated?
Conductive hearing loss is, fundamentally, caused by sound being blocked from reaching the inner ear, so it is not detected as sound by the brain.
- If the cause is earwax or an obstruction, the obstruction is simply removed.
- Infections are treated with antibiotics.
- Malformations of the outer ear or abnormal bone growth may be treated with surgical procedures, such as reconstruction.
- A perforated eardrum can be corrected by closing the hole or tear in the membrane.
How is semi-neural hearing loss treated?
Due to age or damage, the hair cells in the inner ear are reduced. Because the situation cannot be reversed, the most common treatment is a hearing aid.
How is mixed hearing loss treated?
Depending on the cause and situation, a combination of the treatments for conductive and semi-neural hearing loss may help improve hearing. For example, surgery to close a tear in the tympanic membrane or repair the bones of the inner ear may be combined with the use of a hearing aid.
How is auditory neuropathy treated?
In some cases, a hearing aid may be recommended; in others a cochlear implant. A hearing aid amplifies sound so it can be detected. A cochlear implant (an electronic device that bypasses damaged portions of the ear and stimulates the auditory nerve) can help deaf people understand speech and other auditory signals; it does not restore normal hearing.
Why choose Dr. Leeman and the Mueller Surgery Center?
Dr. Leeman is a double board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon who has been providing superior care for his patients for nearly two decades through the Mueller Surgery Center. A state-of-the-art facility, the Center contains the latest diagnostic and testing equipment, as well as an onsite lab for both your convenience and the speed with which we can develop treatment plans and provide solutions to your needs.
To meet the highest standards of care for our patients experiencing hearing loss or other auditory problems, Dr. Leeman collaborates with Dr. Spinuzza, a highly credentialed Doctor of Audiology, who is experienced working with both children and adults.