(Saturday, 2nd Aug, 2014)
What can be done to treat hearing loss?
[ by Eimear Vize www.irishhealth.com]
What happens after hearing loss is diagnosed
What is a hearing aid?
How do I choose a hearing aid?
How many types of hearing aids are there?
Can surgery help hearing loss?
Can speech therapy help?
If you have been diagnosed with a hearing loss, remember that you don't have to make decisions about treatments on your own. Your audiologist (hearing specialist) or your ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) surgeon will discuss your options, such as recommending hearing aids, possibly surgery (not very often), or in severe cases and after further tests, refer you to the Cochlear Implant Unit in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin for assessment.
Hearing aids work by making sounds louder. They are available in various shapes and sizes and may be "tuned" to suit your hearing patterns. However, no hearing aid can restore normal hearing. The effectiveness of a particular hearing aid depends on the degree of hearing loss.
A hearing evaluation should be completed by an audiologist, to ascertain the amount and type of hearing loss. This evaluation will determine which type of hearing aid you require. Then impressions of your ears will be made in order to mould the earpiece, which should fit snugly into your outer ear. This final process is brief and painless.
Hearing aids vary greatly in style and cost. All models have a microphone to pick up sounds for amplification into the ear. Some fit almost entirely within the ear and are nearly invisible. A larger hearing aid that fits behind the ear may be necessary. Occasionally, for extremely severe hearing losses, traditional "body aids" with a wire are still used, but these are required for only a very small percentage of people. Your audiologist can help you decide which hearing aid is most suitable for you.
Yes, middle and inner ear problems leading to hearing loss are potentially managed by surgery. These include grommets, stapedectomy, and cochlear implants.
Your ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) surgeon may recommend inserting a tiny ventilation tube (grommet), which is slipped through a small incision in the eardrum. This can relieve hearing loss due to ‘glue ear' as it allows the blockage of fluid to drain from the middle ear. The surgical insertion of grommets is now one of the most common childhood operations in Ireland.
Surgery may also be recommended to treat Otosclerosis - an abnormal, microscopic growth of bone in the walls of the inner ear, which causes the stapes bone to become "fixed" in place. This surgery is called stapedectomy, meaning removal of the stapes bone. After removal of the stapes bone, a small window is made to the inner ear. An artificial replacement is then substituted for the non-functioning stapes bone.
For people with more severe or profound losses, a cochlear implant may be more effective than a hearing aid. A cochlear implant sends an electrical message through a wire called an electrode directly to the auditory nerve, bypassing the damaged or absent hair cells.
In cases where hearing loss is detected later than one-year-old, speech and language therapy is often indicated, as the child will have missed a significant amount of language input in his/her environment and can present with language or pronunciation difficulties as a result.
In cases of mild or moderate hearing loss, language development can be improved significantly with intervention. In cases of severe or profound hearing loss, a speech and language therapist can advise you on non-verbal communication techniques such as sign language.
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