Hearing Loss Treatment Best Hearing Aids Cost of Hearing Aids
Hearing loss is a condition affecting millions of individuals throughout the world. While most often hearing impairment is associated with old age, many young adults and children also experience some degree of hearing loss. Unlike many other heath conditions, hearing loss often develops even before a person is born. In fact, hearing impairment is the most common birth defect as three in 1,000 babies (0.3%) are born with some degree of hearing loss. While sometimes hearing problems are inherited, in the vast majority of cases they develop because of complications with pregnancy. For example, Rubella (measles) infection during pregnancy often affects the baby's hearing system, as do head injuries sustained during birth. If hearing loss occurs due to pregnancy complications caused by a physician, then it is important to contact a lawyer who can help you determine whether any compensation is available to help offset the additional medical expenses associated with hearing impairment.
Among adults, some of the more common causes of hearing loss include infections, head injuries, repeated exposure to loud noises and tumors. Hearing loss treatment depends on the underlying cause, which is why doctors perform a variety of tests to precisely identify each patient's hearing impediment.
Often, patients who experience hearing problems are referred to audiologists. An audiologist has advanced training in auditory testing and fitting of hearing aids. Depending on the needs of each patient, an audiologist might use one or more diagnostic techniques, such as a tuning fork, audiometry and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A tuning fork is a simple test used to assess patient's capability to hear certain frequencies, while audiometry is a sophisticated evaluation that tests patient's ability to hear a wide spectrum of frequencies at various levels. An MRI is usually performed if a doctor suspects that a patient's hearing loss is caused by a tumor, hematoma or closed head injury.
After providing a patient with a detailed hearing loss diagnosis, the doctor then works with him or her to develop the most effective hearing loss treatment plan. If the hearing loss is caused by fluid buildup in the middle ear, the doctor might recommend a special procedure to remove it. If the cause of hearing impairment is an ear infection or a brain infection, such as meningitis, an aggressive antibiotic therapy might be needed. After these medical conditions are resolved, patients typically regain normal hearing and do not require special hearing devices.
In cases whereby patients' hearing loss is permanent, such as hearing impairment resulting from repeated exposure to loud noise, damaged hearing nerve or the natural aging process, doctors often recommend special devices that improve hearing. The most commonly used hearing devices are hearing aids. These apparatus are appropriate for patients with mild to severe hearing impediments. Hearing aids amplify sounds, helping patients hear them better. Depending on the type of hearing aids, their costs vary greatly. Thus, basic hearing aids that are worn behind the ears might cost several hundred dollars, while digital ear canal devices might cost up to $3,000. In many cases, the cost of hearing aids is covered in whole or partially by insurance companies.
While hearing aids have helped millions of individuals improve their communication abilities, they are not appropriate for all hearing loss patients. Individuals who are completely deaf and those who have only residual hearing typically are not candidates for hearing aids. While the only solutions for these patients used to be learning to read lips and use sign language, recent advancements in medical technologies allow many of them to obtain the ability to perceive and interpret sounds.
A particularly promising technology is the cochlear implant. This device, which has an outer portion and a surgically inserted inner ear component, works by detecting sounds and converting them into electrical impulses that are then sent to the brain for processing. While cochlear implants patients have to undergo lengthy therapy to learn how to interpret these signals, the payoff is immense as they are able to better understand others, respond to them and increase their overall quality of life.
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