Hearing loss is frustrating. It can affect our relationships, our ability to communicate, and even our careers. While most hearing loss requires conventional hearing aids, there are certain types of ear surgery that can improve or restore hearing depending on the diagnosis. Ask your ENT doctor if one of these solutions may work for you.
Ear Surgery for Conductive Hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss happens when there is damage or obstruction to the outer or middle ear which prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. This often happens due to repeat ear infections and the damage may be permanent or temporary. The following surgical procedures may help:
PE Tubes – Small tubes known as pressure equalization (PE) tubes can be placed through the eardrum to allow air into the middle ear. Some PE tubes are short-term and fall out on their own, while some need to be surgically removed. PE tubes can help reduce ear infections and may also be an option for hearing problems due to a cleft palate, malformed eardrums, or Down Syndrome.
Tympanoplasty – A hole in the eardrum can sometimes be repaired with a surgery called tympanoplasty. During surgery a skin graft is applied to the hole in an attempt to close the perforation and restore or improve hearing.
Stapedectomy – Some people suffer from hearing loss due to otosclerosis, which causes hardening of the bone tissue in the middle ear. Often when the stapes bone located in the middle ear becomes stuck in place, the bone is unable to vibrate and send sound through the ear, resulting in impaired hearing. Other symptoms include dizziness and tinnitus, or ringing in the ear.
Stapedectomy is an effective surgery for hearing loss caused by otosclerosis. In this procedure, an ENT surgeon implants a prosthetic device which bypasses abnormal hardening of the bone tissue in the middle ear to deliver sound.
Ear Surgery for Sensorineural Hearing Loss
If you’ve been diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, it means there is damage to the hair cells of the inner ear or the nerve pathways that connect the inner ear to the brain. This type of hearing loss is usually caused by exposure to loud noise, disease, head or acoustic trauma, medications, tumors or simply old age. The hearing problem happens because damaged hair cells found in the cochlea are not able to translate sound waves from the outer ear into electrical impulses along the auditory nerve – where the brain interprets sound.
Cochlear Implants – There is no ear surgery that can repair the sensory hair cells, but having a cochlear implant surgically placed in the inner ear can partially restore some hearing by bypassing damaged cells and directly stimulating the auditory nerve. Most ENT doctors will only recommend cochlear implant surgery after an unsuccessful hearing aid trial.
Here’s how a Cochlear Implant works to restore hearing loss:
• An ENT surgeon with a specialty in neurotology places a tiny electronic device under the skin behind the ear. This connects to electrodes inserted in the cochlea.
• Another unit that looks like a traditional hearing aid is placed behind the ear. It has a microphone which captures the sound, and a speech processor which translates sound into electrical signals.
• The signals transmit through the skin to the internal electronic stimulator, which sends the signal to the electrodes in the cochlea and allows the patient to hear.
Ear Surgery for Both Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss
Whether you have conductive hearing loss or single-sided deafness, the following could be a surgical option for you:
Bone Anchored Hearing Aids – Bone anchored hearing aids have the ability to bypass middle ear damage as well as transmit sound to your better ear through the bones in your head. An external hearing aid attaches to a post that the ENT surgeon implants into the bone behind your ear. This vibration of sound through the bone can improve or restore hearing while you are wearing the device.
If You’re Suffering from Hearing Loss, Call Sound Health Services Today
Physicians at Sound Health are specially trained in addressing concerns with hearing. We can assess what condition has caused your hearing loss and whether or not you may benefit from hearing aids or from ear surgery. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment at (314) 332-1377 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL.