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Conditions & Treatments

Conditions & Treatments


A-Z
Medical Dictionary
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Hearing Loss
Treatment
Several options are available for hearing loss, ranging from medical treatment to listening devices, such as hearing
aids. Treatment depends of the cause and severity of hearing loss. For age-related hearing loss, there is no cure, but
hearing aids and other listening devices help treat the problem and improve quality of life.

Medical Treatment
Medical treatment, including medications and surgery, is recommended for many types of hearing problems,
particularly conductive hearing loss. However, even if medical treatment is not necessary for your type of hearing loss,
we highly recommend a visit to an audiologist for both a definite diagnosis of the type of hearing loss and treatment
advice.

Some of the most common causes of conductive hearing loss are fluid in the middle ear, with or without infection, and
earwax blocking the ear canal. In cases where there is a bacterial infection of the middle ear, antibiotics are often
used. Although these conditions often can be diagnosed and treated by a primary care doctor, persistent problems
may require the care of an ear specialist. Conductive hearing loss also may be caused by a problem with the bones of
the middle ear, which, in many cases, can be treated with surgery.

Hearing Aids
If diagnosed with hearing loss that cannot be treated medically, a doctor will recommend a hearing aid evaluation and
consultation with an audiologist. This consultation appointment will help determine which hearing aids or other
assistive listening devices would be most appropriate. Lifestyle, listening needs and hearing concerns are important in
determining the appropriate hearing aids.

Assistive Listening, Hearing Enhancement and Alerting Devices


In some cases, hearing or alerting assistive devices may be recommended in addition to, or instead of, hearing aids.
Hearing assistance technologies come in two forms:

Signaling or Test Display Devices These are designed to convert sound or keystrokes into visual or
vibratory stimulus, or into a written text.

Assistive Listening Devices These instruments are designed to enhance the sound that is received by
picking up the sound closer to its source. This reduces the effects of distance, noise and reverberation and
transmits sound directly to the ears or hearing aids.

There are a number of devices that can assist hearing in a variety of settings. These include:

Large Area Listening Systems


Television Listening Systems
Conference Microphones
Personal FM Systems
Amplified Telephones
For details on each of the devices listed above, please see Hearing Enhancement Devices.

Signaling and Text Display Systems


People with hearing loss can benefit from signaling and substitution systems, which convert sound or key strokes into
another mode, such as text or flashing lights. These systems include:

Signaling and Warning Systems


Telephones
TV Closed Captioning

Digital Cell Phones and Hearing Aid Use


A common complaint of hearing aid users is the inability to use cell phones, particularly digital cell phones, with their
hearing aids, or that they experience interference when trying to do so. Digital hearing aids are being continually
updated to provide shielding from this interference. Cell phone technology also is changing. In fact, in 2003, the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) developed a report requiring a number of future actions by
manufacturers and service providers to make digital wireless phones that are capable of being used effectively with
hearing aids.

In the meantime, there are many strategies that will improve listening when using cell and land based telephones with
hearing aids. For more information, please see Strategies for Using Your Cell Phone with Your Hearing Aids.

Cochlear Implants
A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can help improve the hearing of people with severe, irreversible
hearing loss. Although a cochlear implant does not restore normal hearing, it can allow a person to hear and
understand more speech than was possible with a hearing aid. The Cochlear Implant Center at UCSF Medical Center
has been involved in the development and design of cochlear implant systems for over 30 years.

Aural Rehabilitation and Listening and Auditory Communication Enhancement


Unfortunately, hearing aids will not correct hearing loss or restore hearing to normal levels. However, the use of
hearing aids and assistive listening devices along with auditory training can help maximize hearing abilities. Training
may consists of:

Audiologic rehabilitation classes

Learning good listening strategies

Establishing guidelines for communicating with those around you

In addition, UCSF Audiology researchers are leaders in the quest to develop home based therapies for enhancing
listening ability.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.