Latest posts by Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D. (see all)
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Despite hearing loss being one of the country’s most prominent chronic diseases, how to recognize and treat hearing loss is still commonly misunderstood. Taking a little time to learn about hearing health and understanding hearing loss can help you preserve your hearing throughout your life. We’ve heard your questions – and we’ve got some answers to clear up misinformation about hearing loss.
Are Cochlear Implants Better Than Hearing Aids?
Cochlear implants are a relatively new way to treat some forms of hearing loss. A cochlear implant procedure is a one-time invasive head surgery that may benefit some people with hearing loss, but they certainly aren’t for everyone. The surgery implants electrodes in the cochlea of the inner ear to establish hearing ability in people with profound hearing loss and deafness.
Cochlear implants are best suited for patients with little-to-no natural hearing ability. The primary candidates for cochlear implant surgery are children with severe hearing issues. When hearing loss is present in adults, hearing specialists will often recommend cochlear implants only if the person’s hearing cannot be helped by hearing aids.
For most people with hearing loss, hearing aids will be just as effective and far less invasive than cochlear implants. Hearing aids do not involve permanently embedded devices and avoid having to undergo surgery. While cochlear implants can provide breakthrough technology for people with a great degree of hearing loss, for most people hearing aids are the most effective course of action.
Can Hearing Loss Be Different In Each Ear?
The audiogram generated by your hearing exam carefully maps your hearing ability in each ear. Although hearing loss is often mirrored across your ears, it is also possible for one ear to have hearing loss that the other ear does not have. This can be especially true across ears if there is a consistent noise factor, such as a hunter who shoots from one side or a factory worker who stands to one side of a machine. Infection and physical injury can also result in one-sided hearing loss.
Hearing loss patterns can be asymmetrical – where hearing loss is present in both ears but demonstrated by different configurations of loss. They can also be unilateral, where hearing loss is found in one ear but not in the other.
Even if hearing loss is unilateral, two hearing aids may be recommended depending on the degree of hearing loss and other lifestyle factors. Using a set of hearing aids can help spatially balance sound and create better integration of hearing aids into hearing.
Why Do You Recommend Treating Hearing Loss Early?
While many people continuously put off having a hearing exam because their hearing issue “isn’t bad enough”, they are actually losing out on the best time to treat gradual hearing loss. Treating hearing issues when they are first recognized is the easiest time to adapt to treatment and a great way to prevent further damage to your hearing system.
The general rule is the sooner you treat hearing loss, the better. This is because when you allow hearing problems to persist untreated, they alter the way your brain works. The natural connections your brain makes during healthy hearing become lost because your brain needs to form new pathways to interpret fragmented sound information.
If you treat hearing loss when it is first detected, you can preserve many of the neural pathways of healthy hearing. Early treatment wards off the cognitive reorganizing that can further stress and worsen your hearing. Because minimal mental adaptation has occurred, early hearing loss is the easiest time to adjust to new hearing aids.
Is There a Cure For Hearing Loss?
Unfortunately, most hearing loss is permanent, involving irreversible damage to tiny sensitive cells in the inner ear. So far, there is no known way to regenerate the hair cells needed for full hearing. Despite this, most hearing loss is treatable and treating hearing loss can preserve your health and quality of life. Hearing loss takes a toll on mental health and acuity as well as earning power and physical stability. Treating hearing loss helps prevent hearing loss from having a negative impact on your life.
Atlanta Hearing Doctor
When you need help with your hearing, turn to Atlanta Hearing Doctor. We offer a full range of audiological services to keep you hearing your best your whole life through.