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Ask The Audiologist

Q.Can hearing loss be corrected with medication, or is a hearing aid the only alternative?

A. There are three major types of hearing loss. A conductive hearing loss involves some type of problem in the outer ear (for example, impacted ear wax in the canal) or middle ear (for example, fluid behind the eardrum, or some type of problems with the middle ear bones). In this case, sound cannot be conducted to the inner ear for processing.

For a conductive hearing loss, some type of medical and/or surgical treatment may alleviate the hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is usually temporary.

The second type of hearing loss is known as a sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss typically affects the inner ear or possibly the hearing nerve. The most common sensorineural hearing losses include those due to the aging process and from exposure to loud noise.

Usually there is no medical or surgical treatment these types of losses and hearing aids are the best alternative; however, there are sensorineural losses that do respond to medical treatment (for example, Meniere's disease).

The third major type of hearing loss is a mixed loss, which is a combination of a conductive hearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss.

Hearing aids are usually fit when people have sensorineural hearing losses. It is critically, however, to be seen by a physician (preferably an otolaryngolotist who specialized in ear, nose, and throat disease) prior to the fitting of hearing aids.

It is also critical to work with your audiologist (non-medical professional) so that your hearing can be evaluated properly and completely. Your audiologist will be able to guide you through the process of obtaining hearing aids.

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Dr. Craig Newman

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