Will a hearing aid help or hurt my hearing loss?

Will a hearing aid help my hearing loss?

Most people with hearing loss can be successfully treated with hearing aids. Medical treatments and surgical procedures are helpful for only five percent of adults with hearing loss.

Hearing aids cannot cure hearing loss, but they CAN help you hear better again, may reduce further hearing loss and loss of understanding.

Hearing is a complex process that begins as sound waves with the ears and ends up in the brain where information is received, stored as memory and “decoded” into something that we understand as sound.

When you add hearing aids to boost hearing, the brain suddenly registers long-forgotten sounds. Adapting to hearing aid amplification requires time, training and patience. You are essentially retraining your brain to interpret and recognize sounds, focus on some and filter others out – just as you did previously when your hearing was normal.

Hearing aids can improve your ability to hear and communicate with the world around you, but they cannot “cure” your hearing loss – just as glasses do not “cure” your nearsightedness or farsightedness. With continued use they can help prevent the active loss of the memory of speech sounds, called REGRESSION. Just as you might forget a second language if you don’t use it, so also you will forget the sounds of speech that you can no longer hear, unless your hearing aids allow you to hear and understand them.

Hearing aids are tools to help you manage your hearing loss problem, and while they can contribute significantly to an improved quality of life, they are not perfect. Even with successfully fitted hearing aids, you might still have some difficulties hearing well in some situations. With patience you will find ways to adapt to your new hearing aids, including watching people more closely as they talk and keeping background noise to a minimum when possible.

The key to success is to consistently use your hearing aids, read aloud to refresh your hearing memory of the speech sounds that you have been missing, stay as close as practical to what you want to focus on, keep your ears and hearing aids clean and be patient as you relearn to interpret the sounds that you are once again hearing.

Extended Wear Hearing Aids

Extended Wear Hearing Aids

Extended Wear Hearing aids are very small hearing aids that are non-surgically placed in the ear canal by an audiologist/ specialist. They are worn up to several months at a time without removal. The devices are made with a flexible plastic material designed to fit the curves of the ear canal. They are worn continuously and then discarded and replaced with a new device. They are very useful for active wealthy individuals because their sealed design protects against moisture and earwax, and they can be worn while exercising, showering, etc. They are worn CIC, Completely In The Canal. They are not re-usable. The battery is sealed within the housing and is not replaceable. Most in the ear hearing aids that are sold are removable and have removable batteries.

The majority of hearing aids sold today are the behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. and are the most commonly recommended aid for infants and young children  and many adults now wear the open fit style of BTE. Some people still choose to wear all-in-the-ear hearing aids, though the battery life is the shortest (due to the small size) and they are not as powerful as the BTE hearing aids. The are normally made from an ear impression and custom made inside a small shell. The CIC do not have volume controls, directional microphones or other controls, because of their small size.

There are also special hearing aids built to handle very specific types of hearing loss. For example, a bone conduction hearing aid uses a headband and a bone vibrator for individuals who have no ear canal or outer ear. These devices bypass the outer and middle ear and directly stimulate the cochlea (inner ear). A relatively new innovation is the osseo-integrated hearing aid (bone anchored), which is surgically implanted in the skull. This device has three parts: a titanium implant, an external abutment, and a detachable sound processor.

Health conditions, drugs that cause or worsen tinnitus.

Tinnitis is a ringing, roaring, buzzing or similar unreal sound in the real world, but is heard as an actual sound in a persons ear. 

In many cases, an exact cause of Tinnitus is never found.  A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear cell damage. Tiny, delicate hair cells (Cilia) in your inner ear move in a fluid, in relation to the pressure changes of sound waves. This triggers ear cells to release an electrical signal through a nerve from your inner ear (auditory nerve) to your brain. Your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hair cells inside your inner ear are bent, damaged or broken, they can send random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus.

Other causes of tinnitus include other ear problems, chronic health conditions, drugs and injuries or conditions that affect the nerves in your ear or the hearing center in your brain.

 Common causes of tinnitus

In many people, tinnitus is caused by one of these conditions:  Age-related hearing loss. For many people, hearing worsens with age, usually starting around age 60. Hearing loss can cause tinnitus. The medical term for this type of hearing loss is presbycusis. Exposure to loud noise. Loud noises, such as those from heavy equipment, chain saws and firearms, are common sources of noise-related hearing loss. Portable music devices, such as MP3 players or iPods, also can cause noise-related hearing loss if played loudly for long periods. Tinnitus caused by short-term exposure, such as attending a loud concert, usually goes away; long-term exposure to loud sound can cause permanent damage.

Earwax blockage.

Earwax protects your ear canal by trapping dirt and slowing the growth of bacteria. When too much earwax accumulates, it becomes too hard to wash away naturally, causing hearing loss or irritation of the eardrum, which can lead to tinnitus.

Ear bone changes.

Stiffening of the 3 tiny bones ( below, red, blue, yellow) in your middle ear (otosclerosis) may affect your hearing and cause tinnitus. This condition, caused by abnormal bone growth, tends to run in families.   Inner ear

Other causes of tinnitus

Some causes of tinnitus are less common, including:  Meniere’s disease. Tinnitus can be an early indicator of Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that may be caused by abnormal inner ear fluid pressure. TMJ disorders. Problems with the temporo-mandibular joint, the joint on each side of your head in front of your ears, where your lower jawbone meets your skull, can cause tinnitus.

Head injuries or neck injuries.

Head or neck injury (trauma) can affect the inner ear, hearing nerves or brain function linked to hearing. Such injuries generally cause tinnitus in only one ear, on the side that was damaged.

Acoustic Neuroma.

This noncancerous (benign) tumor develops on the cranial nerve that runs from your brain to your inner ear and controls balance and hearing. Also called vestibular schwannoma, this condition generally causes tinnitus in only one ear.

Blood vessel disorders linked to tinnitus

In rare cases, tinnitus is caused by a blood vessel disorder. This type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus. Causes include:  Atherosclerosis. With age and buildup of cholesterol and other deposits, major blood vessels close to your middle and inner ear lose some of their elasticity — the ability to flex or expand slightly with each heartbeat. That causes blood flow to become more forceful, making it easier for your ear to detect the beats. You can generally hear this type of tinnitus in both ears.

Head and neck tumors.

A tumor that presses on blood vessels in your head or neck (vascular neoplasm) can cause tinnitus and other symptoms. High blood pressure. Hypertension and factors that increase blood pressure, such as stress, alcohol and caffeine, can make tinnitus more noticeable.

Turbulent blood flow.

Narrowing or kinking in a neck artery (carotid artery) or vein in your neck (jugular vein) can cause turbulent, irregular blood flow, leading to tinnitus.

Malformation of capillaries.

A condition called arteriovenous malformation (AVM), abnormal connections between arteries and veins, can result in tinnitus. This type of tinnitus generally occurs in only one ear.

Medications that can cause tinnitus

A number of medications may cause or worsen tinnitus. Generally, the higher the dose of these medications, the worse tinnitus becomes. Often the unwanted noise disappears when you stop using these drugs. 

Medications known to cause or worsen tinnitus include:  Antibiotics, including polymyxin B, erythromycin, vancomycin and neomycin Cancer medications, including mechlorethamine and vincristine Water pills (diuretics), such as bumetanide, ethacrynic acid or furosemide Quinine medications used for malaria or other health conditions Certain antidepressants may worsen tinnitus Aspirin taken in uncommonly high doses (usually 12 or more a day)

Risk factors

 Anyone can experience tinnitus, but these factors may increase your risk:  Loud noise exposure. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage the tiny sensory hair cells in your inner ear that transmit sound to your brain. People who work in noisy environments — such as factory and construction workers, musicians, and soldiers — are particularly at risk. Age. As you age, the number of functioning nerve fibers in your ears declines, possibly causing hearing problems often associated with tinnitus.

Gender.

Men are more likely to experience tinnitus. Smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of developing tinnitus. Cardiovascular problems. Conditions that affect your blood flow, such as high blood pressure or narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis), can increase your risk of Tinnitis. With so many possible causes, it may be difficult to pin-point your  cause. Review the likely causes and remove those causes , if possible and see if the noise is reduced or is eliminated.