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Treating Hearing Loss With Hearing Aids & Cochlear Implants
It is especially important to take special measures to diagnose and treat the hard of hearing during this period in time.  Mask wearing and social distancing present a real problem for many people with hearing loss.  Wearing a mask prevents us from watching one’s lips move while talking to help understand speech, and muffles speech as well. Additionally, social distancing can make hearing and understanding speech more difficult.  

The first step in treating hearing loss is to determine the cause.

  • There are some medical conditions such as infections, which can be treated with antibiotics, and tumors that are treatable.
  • Some people are prone to developing copious ear wax, which can be dissolved or washed out.  

The second step is to know your treatment options.  

Hearing Aids

Fit inside or behind your ear. They electronically amplify the sounds going into your ear, but they don't restore hearing. Your audiologist will choose the best hearing aid for you. Then the hearing aid will be programmed to accommodate your type and degree of hearing loss. Some hearing aids amplify the higher frequencies to improve speech recognition. Other hearing aids can be programmed to accommodate for specific situations, such as noisy or quiet environments.

You can also customize your hearing aid further by adding options:

  • Directional microphones boost the sound coming straight at you so that you have an easier time hearing conversations.
  • Filter out background noise ex/while you're on the phone, at a party, out in a noisy place.

Cochlear Implants

Electronic devices that create the sensation of sound by directly stimulating hearing nerves in the inner ear. A cochlear implant isn't like a hearing aid. It doesn't amplify what your ears are hearing. Instead, it bypasses your ears and directly stimulates the auditory nerve, which sends the signal straight to your brain. The sound you hear with a cochlear implant is not the same as normal hearing. However, with time and practice a person's performance ability improves. Performance with cochlear implants gets better with time and practice. At first, someone might hear voices but may not be able to understand them very well. The brain adapts, and this adaptation may improve if the user takes part in aural rehabilitation.

Middle Ear Implants

An option for people who either can't tolerate or don't benefit from hearing aids, but whose hearing loss isn't severe enough for a cochlear implant. You wear an external microphone above your ear that picks up sound. The sound is converted into electrical signals, which travel through the skin to an implant that is attached to the tiny bones of the middle ear. The implant enhances the vibration of the middle ear bones and sends those amplified vibrations to the inner ear. Finally, the nerve signal is sent to the brain, where it is recognized as sound.

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