Can Hearing Loss be Treated with Surgery? - Attune
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Can Hearing Loss be Treated with Surgery?

Surgery

It’s estimated that one in six Australians suffers from some form of hearing loss, and the majority of those who have hearing loss can treat it with hearing aids. 

However, for those with such severe hearing loss that hearing aids can’t treat it, there is another way. 

Some types of hearing loss can be treated with surgical procedures, such as abnormalities of the eardrums or bones of hearing (ossicles). 

Today we will discuss the different types of hearing loss, what causes the hearing loss and the surgical procedures that can treat it.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This is a permanent hearing loss that occurs when a problem with the inner ear or auditory nerve prevents or weakens the nerve signals sent to the brain. 

Causes of sensorineural hearing loss 

There are three main causes of sensorineural hearing loss, including

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Surgical options for sensorineural hearing loss 

1. Cochlear Implants 

If you have severe to profound hearing loss and have found that hearing aids don’t help, cochlear implants may be the solution for you.

Unlike traditional hearing aids that amplify sound, a cochlear implant bypasses the damaged part of the hearing system to directly stimulate the auditory nerve. 

The two main components of a cochlear implant include

  • The implant: A small electronic device surgically implanted under the skin behind the ear. The implant is connected to electrodes that are inserted in the cochlea. 
  • The external component: This looks similar to a behind-the-ear hearing aid. However, when the microphone captures the sound, it’s transmitted through the skin to the internal electronic stimulator that sends the signal to the electrodes in the cochlea.

2. Implantable Hearing Aid

Hearing aids have significantly advanced over the last ten years, and if you have mild to moderately-severe hearing loss, you could treat it with an implantable Lyric hearing aid.

Manufactured by Phonak, this hearing aid can be worn up for several months at a time. The device is inserted and programmed by a certified Lyric provider and can be worn while showering and exercising. 

Conductive Hearing Loss 

This hearing loss occurs when damage to the outer or middle ear prevents sound vibrations from reaching the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the cause. 

Causes of conductive hearing loss 

There are many different causes of conductive hearing loss, including 

  • Ear Infections: Ear infections may cause temporary hearing loss due to inflammation and fluid buildup behind the eardrum. 
  • Poor Eustachian Tube Function: The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear and nose to allow fluid to drain. However, if the tube doesn’t function correctly, fluid can accumulate and result in muffled hearing, tinnitus or a feeling of fullness in the ear.
  • Earwax Blockage: As earwax builds up over time, it can get stuck and turn into a sound barrier that prevents you from hearing. 
  • Allergies: Allergens cause histamine release in the body, which triggers responses such as sneezing, itching, congestion and an increase in mucus production. The fluid accumulation in the middle ear may prevent sounds from travelling to the cochlea. 
  • Benign Tumours: Acoustic neuromas are benign tumours of the hearing or balance organs that can block the outer or middle ear or apply pressure to the hearing nerve. 
  • Structural Defects: Congenital disabilities can cause outer or middle ear deformations, such as deformed ear canals or problems with the middle ear bones.

Surgical options

Surgical options for conductive hearing loss 

1. Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids 

While cochlear implants are popular surgical solutions for those with profound hearing loss, bone-anchored hearing aids are a common treatment for conductive hearing loss. 

Bone-anchored hearing aids consist of an implant that’s surgically inserted into the bone behind the ear and a hearing aid that fits over the implant. 

When sound is detected in the environment, vibrations are sent to the inner ear via the bone. 

2. Grommets

Although ear infections usually resolve on their own, sometimes they don’t, leading to permanent hearing loss. 

In cases where ear infections don’t ease on their own, the doctor may recommend inserting grommets, also known as pressure equalisation tubes. These tubes are inserted into the ear to allow air into the middle ear. 

Short-term grommets usually fall out on their own within six to 18 months, while long-term grommets stay in longer and may need to be removed by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. 

Although children are the most common recipients of grommets, they may also be beneficial for adults who suffer from the same condition. 

3. Stapedectomy 

Otosclerosis causes abnormal hardening of the bone tissue in the middle ear.

There are three types of otosclerosis

  • Stapedial Otosclerosis: This is when otosclerosis spreads to the stapes bone and prevents it from vibrating. This causes conductive hearing loss and can be treated with a stapedectomy.
  • Cochlea Otosclerosis: This is when otosclerosis invades the cochlea and causes permanent damage to the hair cells or nerve pathways. This type of otosclerosis causes sensorineural hearing loss. Therefore a stapedectomy is not an option. 
  • Mixed Otosclerosis: This is a combination of both types of otosclerosis and can occur as the disease progresses. 

Those with otosclerosis may benefit from having a stapedectomy, a surgical procedure that implants a prosthetic device designed to bypass the abnormal hardening. 

Get Tested at Attune

Have you noticed that your hearing has significantly gotten worse? Do you have to ask people to repeat themselves or constantly turn the TV volume up?

If so, you need to book a hearing test at your nearest Attune Hearing clinic. Our comprehensive hearing tests will determine if you have hearing loss, the type of hearing loss you have and what caused it. 

Your audiologist may recommend hearing aids or a surgical procedure to treat your hearing loss. 

Don’t put off your hearing health, get your hearing tested today by booking online or calling us on 1300 736 702. 

Enquire now