Mayo Clinic offers state-of-the-art treatment to people with hearing loss. If your condition can be helped with medication or surgery, you will be treated by an ENT specialist. If there are no medical or surgical options, or if you chose not to pursue them, an audiologist can provide options that may include hearing aids or other devices.
Hearing loss conditions and treatments
Below is an overview of hearing problems and their treatments:
- Presbycusis. Presbycusis, the most common cause of hearing loss, results from the effects of aging on the inner ear. It is not medically or surgically treatable. Mayo's audiologists can provide education and fit you with hearing aids and other assistive devices, as well as provide strategies to improve your hearing in common situations.
- Chronic otitis media. Chronic otitis media is a condition of the middle ear that can cause hearing loss and eardrum perforations. Most active infections with perforations can be treated with antibiotics. If not, surgery may be necessary.
- Mastoiditis. Mastoiditis is an infection that affects the mastoid bone, located behind the ear. Doctors will treat the infection with antibiotics or, if symptoms do not improve, with surgery.
- Otosclerosis. This is a condition in which a bone growth in the middle ear prevents the small ear bones from working properly. You may benefit from surgery or a hearing aid.
- Acoustic neuroma. An acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous (benign) tumor that grows on the nerves leading from the inner ear to the brain. Doctors will usually remove or reduce the tumor with microsurgery or stereotactic radiation therapy (radiosurgery).
- Balance disorders. Dizziness and balance difficulties can be caused by a problem with the vestibular system in the inner ear and can also affect hearing. A team of specialists, including specialists in ENT, audiology, neurology, neurosurgery, physical and occupational therapy, psychiatry and psychology, and physical medicine, works together to help people experiencing balance problems. Specially trained therapists offer vestibular rehabilitation therapy, which may include an exercise program. In cases of Meniere's disease, medical therapy, transtympanic ear injections and surgery can also provide relief from the dizziness.
- Cholesteatoma. Cholesteatoma (koe-leh-stee-uh-TOE-muh) is a type of skin cyst in the middle ear. Individuals may be born with one or acquire one following repeated ear infections. These growths are not cancerous but can damage the ear and cause hearing loss. The initial treatment is to stop the infection and drainage with antibiotics and eardrops. In some cases, surgery is required.
Audiologists offer hearing aid testing, evaluations and fittings at all three Mayo locations. Many kinds of hearing devices are available, ranging from tiny hearing aids that fit completely within the ear canal, to more traditional, behind-the-ear styles. Styles also range from more basic to sophisticated digital aids with advanced features.
Bone-anchored hearing aids (Baha system). Baha hearing aids (also called osseointegrated hearing aids) are good for people who have chronic conductive or mixed hearing loss, or single-sided deafness. A small titanium screw is implanted behind your ear into the skull bone and used to conduct sound from a hearing aid to the inner ear. You will need to be evaluated by an ear physician (otologist) to see if the Baha system is right for you. Audiologists can provide a demonstration headband so you can experience the sound from the system.
These implantable electronic devices can help individuals with severe hearing loss in both ears who do not adequately benefit from hearing aids. This surgery is performed at all three Mayo Clinic locations. Read more about cochlear implants.
Hearing loss in children
Mayo Clinic campuses in Minnesota and Arizona offer specialized treatment for children with hearing loss, including evaluation, medication, surgery and a wide variety of hearing devices.
Aug. 23, 2011
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- Weber PC. Evaluation of hearing loss in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Lustig LR, et al. Ear, nose, & throat disorders. In: McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2011. 50th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2613. Accessed April 25, 2011.
- Weber PC. Etiology of hearing loss in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Weener DJ, et al. Evaluation and management of hearing loss in older adults. Clinical Geriatrics. 2010;18:20.
- Common sounds. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/education/teachers/common_sounds.asp. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Learn more about hearing loss prevention: Noise meter. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. http://220.127.116.11/niosh/topics/noise/abouthlp/noisemeter_flash/soundMeter_flash.html. Accessed April 28, 2011.
- Occupational noise exposure — 1910.95. U.S. Department of Labor. http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9735. Accessed April 28, 2011.
- How loud is too loud? American Tinnitus Association. http://www.ata.org/about-tinnitus/how-loud-too-loud. Accessed April 28, 2011.
- Isaacson B. Hearing Loss. The Medical Clinics of North America. 2010;94:973.
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