Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Is There Anything That Helps Severe Hearing Loss?

Monday, 19 Jul 2010 12:34 PM

Question: I have had hearing loss since childhood. Hearing aids are very frustrating and cochlear implants at 72 percent loss are not an option. Speech discrimination is a major problem, even with the very best aids. Is there anything you are aware of to help those with severe hearing loss? I am not on any medications.

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Hearing loss is a very disabling condition. Cochlear implants provide amplified electrical signals directly into the auditory nerve through electrodes implanted in the cochlea. Cochlear implants allow patients with cochlear dysfunction or damage to once again hear intonations of sound.

Some patients with cochlear implants can hear well enough after the implant to talk on the phone without visual cues. With others, implants help modulate their voices, making their speech more intelligible. Old damage to the auditory (eighth cranial) nerve cannot be repaired, and effective treatment is not available for this form of hearing loss. Genetics, drug toxicity, infection, and tumors are the most common causes.

A hearing aid will not be helpful if you have no speech recognition, as it will amplify noise without you being able to discriminate speech from noise. Conductive hearing losses are often correctable, even if present for many years. MRI imaging will help define the anatomy and show structural defects, tumors, etc. I cannot tell how much of your deficit is from sensory or from conductive losses of hearing. I recommend you consult an otolaryngologist for further recommendations that apply to your individual circumstance.

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