Treating Hearing Loss
Treatment for temporary or reversible hearing loss usually depends on the cause of the hearing loss. Treatment for permanent hearing loss includes using hearing devices.
Although you and your family may view permanent hearing loss as part of aging, proper treatment is important. Hearing loss may contribute to loneliness, depression, and loss of independence. Treatment cannot bring back your hearing, but it can make communication, social interaction, and work and daily activities easier and more enjoyable.
- Treatment for reversible hearing loss depends on its cause. It is often treated successfully. Hearing loss caused by:
- Ototoxic medicines (such as aspirin or ibuprofen) often improves after you stop taking the medicine.
- An ear infection, such as a middle ear infection, often clears up on its own, but you may need antibiotics.
- An injury to the ear or head may heal on its own, or you may need surgery.
- Otosclerosis, acoustic neuroma, or Ménière’s disease may require medicine or surgery.
- An autoimmune problem may be treated with corticosteroid medicines, generally prednisone.
- Earwax is treated by removing the wax. Do not use a cotton swab or a sharp object to try to remove the wax. This may push the wax even deeper into the ear or may cause injury. For information on how to remove hardened earwax safely, see the topic Earwax.
In permanent hearing loss, such as age-related and noise-induced hearing loss, hearing devices can often improve how well you hear and communicate. These devices include:
- Hearing aids. Hearing aids make sounds louder (amplify). They do not restore your hearing, but they may help you function and communicate more easily.
- Assistive listening devices, alerting devices, and other communication aids.
Reversible hearing loss, such as loss that occurs because of earwax or ear infections, is generally cured after treating its cause. If you continue to have hearing problems in this situation, work with your doctor. You may need more medicine or surgery, depending on the cause of your hearing loss.
If you have permanent hearing loss, such as age-related and noise-induced hearing loss, you probably will continue to use a hearing aid. Your doctor or other hearing specialist may suggest occasional hearing tests to see whether your hearing has changed. If it has, your hearing aid may need adjustment.
Other hearing devices you may consider include:
- Assistive listening devices.
These devices make certain sounds louder by bringing the sound directly to your ear. You can use different types of devices for different situations, such as one-on-one conversations and classroom settings or auditoriums. Commonly used listening devices include telephone amplifiers, personal listening systems (such as auditory trainers and personal FM systems), and hearing aids that you can connect directly to a television, stereo, radio, or microphone.
- Alerting devices.
These devices alert you to a particular sound (such as the doorbell, a ringing telephone, or a baby monitor) by using louder sounds, lights, or vibrations to get your attention.
- Television closed-captioning.
Television closed-captioning makes it easier to watch television by showing the words at the bottom of the screen so that you can read them. Most newer TVs have a closed-captions option.
- TTY (text telephone).
TTYs (also called TDD, or telecommunication device for the deaf) allow you to type messages back and forth on the telephone instead of talking or listening. When messages are typed on the TTY keyboard, the information is sent over the phone line to a receiving TTY and shown on a monitor. A telecommunications relay service (TRS) makes it possible to call from a phone to a TTY or vice versa.