Hearing Loss Overview
The Midwest Ear Institute provides complete care for patients experiencing hearing loss. Led by our fellowship-trained and board-certified physician specializing in otology and neurotology, our highly trained audiology team also boasts a board-certified nurse practitioner to help diagnose and devise a plan for your most successful outcome.
We are equipped and practiced in treating hearing loss in patients of all ages, from the very young to our most mature patients. We use a variety of methods in providing hearing loss solutions, from hearing aids to cochlear implants and other assistive technologies. All of our audiology team members are trained to the highest levels, with Masters and Doctoral degrees.
We service and dispense our hearing aids, the best available on the market, through our in-office affiliate, Medical Hearing Aids. Beyond hearing aids, we can treat even the most severe cases of hearing loss by offering cochlear implant surgery and programming.
Hearing Loss Treatment
Hearing loss can be difficult to self-diagnose, in fact, your friends and family may even be aware of your hearing loss before you are. For a variety of reasons, many people avoid hearing loss examinations and diagnosis, even though treating hearing loss can significantly improve your quality of life. Along with the natural aging process, exposure to excessive noise can also cause hearing loss, which can impact people of any age.
In other cases, you might be experiencing hearing loss because of obstructions within the ear like a buildup of earwax, viruses or bacteria, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumors, and certain medications.
Because each case of hearing loss is unique, our team will work together to plot a custom plan suited to your needs and individual pattern of hearing loss.
How Does Our Hearing Work?
Our ears rely upon not only their marvelous architecture, but the integral structures inside the ear to deliver healthy hearing. Sound is gathered from the external world and received in the fine cells of the middle ear. They translate sound into electrical impulses that can be interpreted in the brain.
The ear has three main parts: the outer ear (including the external auditory canal), middle ear, and inner ear. Sound vibrations vibrate the eardrum (tympanic membrane) where the first hearing bone called the malleus (hammer) then vibrates. The malleus transmits sound to the incus (anvil), which transfers sound to the stapes (stirrup). Sound is then transferred to the cochlea which contains tubes filled with fluid. Here the sound is changed into nerve signals which are sent to the brain via the auditory (hearing) nerve. In our brain, these electrical impulses are experienced as sound.
Types of Hearing Loss
There are two types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural.
Conductive hearing loss happens when sound cannot make its way through the ear due to an obstruction. In many cases, a buildup of earwax is the cause of the obstruction.
Other common causes of conductive hearing loss:
- Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa)
- Foreign matter
- Ear infections
Other conditions causing conductive hearing loss include bony lesions of the ear canal, benign growths of bone along the walls of the ear canal or Atresia of the Ear Canal, a complete malformation of the external ear canal. Tympanic Membrane Atelectasis or Retraction (collapse of the eardrum), Tympanic Membrane Perforation (a hole in the eardrum), Cholesteatoma, Damage to the Middle Ear Ossicles and Otosclerosis.
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is an issue with the inner ear or auditory nerve. The two most common causes are the natural aging process (age-related) and exposure to excessive noise (noise-induced).
Pediatric Hearing Loss
We see patients of all ages, including cases of pediatric hearing loss. More than three million American children have hearing loss, and an estimated 1.3 million of them are under three years of age.
Most children with hearing loss are diagnosed in a screening before their hospital discharge as a newborn. In others, parents and grandparents are usually the first to discover hearing loss in a baby because they spend the most time with them. If at any time you suspect your baby has hearing loss, you should first discuss it with your doctor.
From there, our team of hearing health professionals can lead you through the process of further investigation before deciding on a plan of successful treatment.