Hearing loss affects roughly one in every five people in Charleston; it is usually—but not always—permanent. Depending on your type and degree of hearing impairment, a surgical procedure may successfully restore hearing ability.
Which Types of Hearing Loss Can Be Corrected Surgically?
Hearing loss can affect different parts of the ears.
What is nerve deafness?
Damage to the inner ears is known as sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) or nerve deafness. SSHL is the most common type of hearing loss; about nine in 10 people with hearing loss in Charleston experience it.
Nerve deafness is caused by a variety of factors including age, noise exposure, disease, trauma, tumors and medications.
SSHL is permanent and cannot be cured; once the hair cells in the inner ear responsible for transmitting electrical impulses to the brain where they are converted into sound are damaged, they cannot be fixed. However, there is a surgical procedure that can bypass the damaged cells.
Some people with severe to profound SSHL may be able to benefit from cochlear implants. Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sounds, cochlear implants bypass the damaged portions of the inner ear to directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
How do cochlear implants work?
Cochlear implants consist of an electronic device that is surgically implanted beneath the skin behind the ear; this is connected to electrodes that are inserted in the cochlea.
An external component contains a microphone that captures sound and a speech processor that converts it to electrical signals; these are transmitted to the internal device, which sends the impulses to the electrodes, where they are processed as sound.
Not all patients are viable candidates for cochlear implants; they must meet certain specific criteria and be in good overall physical health. The invasive nature of this surgery makes it best suited for patients who are severely hearing impaired or deaf.
What are the causes of conductive hearing loss?
About one in 10 people with a hearing impairment in Charleston suffer from conductive hearing loss. This occurs when sound cannot reach the inner ear due to an obstruction or trauma to the outer or middle ears.
Typical causes include earwax buildup, infection, abnormal bone growth and foreign objects in the ears. Conductive hearing loss, while far less common, can often be surgically corrected.
Procedures for reversing conductive hearing loss include:
- PE tubes. Children who experience chronic ear infections are sometimes given pressure equalization (PE) tubes to help provide ventilation and promote drainage of fluids. These are inserted surgically and usually fall out on their own after six to 18 months.
- Stapedectomy. This procedure is designed for patients with ostosclerosis, a hardening of bone tissue in the middle ear. It involves surgical removal of the stapes bone (either partial or total) that allows transmission of sound waves to the inner ear. 90 percent of patients who undergo the procedure experience significant hearing improvement.
What is the next best alternative to surgical hearing correction?
Keep in mind that only a small number of people with hearing loss will benefit from surgery. In most cases, hearing aids are the best option for restoring communication abilities.
There are a large variety of styles available, and most of today’s devices include state-of-the-art features such as Bluetooth® connectivity.
If you are experiencing hearing loss in Charleston and would like information on treatment options, schedule an appointment with a qualified audiologist today.
Related Hearing Loss Posts:
- Tips for Removing Water from Your Ears
- How to Relieve Ear Pressure When You’re Sick
- Acoustic Neuroma: Benign Tumor that Affects Hearing
Our Charleston Area Audiologists Office Locations
North Mount Pleasant
North Charleston, SC 29406
298 Midland Pkwy
Summerville, SC 29485
2005 2nd Avenue
Summerville, SC 29486