From infants and music lovers to industrial workers and grandparents, hearing loss can affect anyone. This impairment can be present at birth, come on slowly, or happen suddenly.
For an issue with so many causes, audiologists first focus on identifying the problem. Then he or she will recommend one or more of the treatments that have been developed for each diagnosis. Each of the following interventions is specifically designed and set up to help patients develop improved communication in their everyday lives.
The advancements in digital hearing aid technology are allowing patients to hear like never before. With precise fine-tuning capabilities, these fully customizable devices can be adjusted to fit the diagnosis, lifestyles, and preferences of each patient. Wearers are able to hear soft sounds while loud noises are slightly muted. They will also experience more natural sound quality and minimal distortion through the use of digital signal processing.
Middle Ear Implants
For those whom hearing aids will not help, middle ear implants (MEIs) could be the answer. Often, patients will have already tried traditional assistive devices but found they were unsuccessful. MEIs are usually prescribed for those with single-sided deafness, conductive, or mixed, hearing loss and provide results in the mid-to-high frequency ranges.
Severe-to-profound hearing loss currently affects half a million United State’s residents and in many cases, traditional devices offer insufficient listening benefit to sufferers. When appropriate, audiologists will refer patients to an otologist for the surgical implantation of a Cochlear implant as soon as possible in order to promote speech and language development.
Assistive Listening Devices
Unlike hearing aids, MEIs, and cochlear implants, assistive listening devices (ALDs) are not worn by the patient, but instead are standalone equipment. This technology is being widely used to improve access to common audio devices by users. Designed to improve speech quality and increase patients’ detection of environmental sounds, ALDs interact with other common household devices such as phones and televisions.
Once a patient has been fitted with the appropriate hearing device, an audiologist will suggest aural rehabilitation. Aural therapies are meant to help individuals achieve better receptive and expressive communication. More often referred to as “habilitative” treatment, these programs focus on education while adults are being re-trained.
The first step to gaining or regaining the ability to communicate effectively is finding the cause of the impairment. Beyond that, patients embark on a road to treatments. Depending on the diagnosis, these measures could last a short time or for the remainder of a patient’s life. Regardless, the point is to allow sufferers of hearing loss to live their lives to the fullest extent possible.