Are there medical treatments for hearing loss?
In many cases, conductive hearing loss (hearing loss originating in the outer and/or middle ear) responds to medical treatment, and hearing is restored when the underlying condition is remedied. Examples of conditions that may cause hearing loss and can usually be medically treated are: middle ear infection with fluid build-up, perforation of the eardrum, wax build-up in the ear canal.
When medical approaches are not indicated or effective, the use of hearing aids or other types of amplification (i.e. - bone conduction implants) may provide effective means to better hearing for people with conductive hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss (hearing loss originating in the inner ear and/or auditory nerve) is most often caused by damage to the inner ear hair cells. Sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent since hair cells do not repair themselves and cannot be medically treated once damaged. Although research in hair cell regeneration in animals has shown promise, it appears that such treatment for humans is most likely many years away due the many complex scientific issues that have yet to be tackled.
When medical intervention is contraindicated or cannot restore hearing, hearing aids and cochlear implants can provide effective means to better hearing for individuals with sensorineural hearing loss. In fact, in more than 95% of all cases of sensorineural hearing loss, hearing aids or cochlear implants are the recommended course of treatment. Hearing aids and cochlear implants have shown excellent outcomes for people with hearing loss.
The technology, styles and effectiveness are better than ever before, and satisfaction with newer hearing instruments is at an all-time high. A study by the National Council on Aging has shown that hearing aids not only help people hear better, but actually improve quality of life for people with hearing loss and their families.