Managing Hearing Loss - What if my hearing loss gets worse?
by Envoy Medical Staff Member, on October 30, 2020
Part of healthy living is managing and monitoring your hearing loss. Will your hearing decline, if so how will you know? Will you have to change how you treat your hearing loss? What options will you have?
Sensorineural hearing loss is often progressive, meaning that your hearing loss could get worse over time. Typically the gradual progression of hearing loss happens over several years’ time. For example, maybe it first came to your attention as a mild loss that you barely noticed, but over the course of time became more significant and disruptive to your daily life. Sometimes it will present as a decrease in understanding speech without a decrease in hearing sounds. Progressive hearing loss can occur as a result of aging, noise exposure, genetics, or something else.
How do you know if your loss is progressive?
It’s important to have an annual hearing evaluation with an Audiologist to monitor your hearing. Understanding the progression will help the audiologist better adjust your hearing device to accommodate for any additional loss and will also help you stay on top of anything unusual.
Esteem® patients should see an Esteem Audiologist annually. Esteem Audiologists are able to perform diagnostic testing specific to the Esteem to ensure the device is working properly and is functioning appropriately for your hearing loss.
What options are available if your hearing declines?
Typically changes in your hearing loss can be managed by making proper adjustments to the device (whether you are using a hearing aid, the Esteem, or a cochlear implant) to accommodate for the loss. However, sometimes hearing loss progresses to a point in which both the severity of loss and the speech understanding deteriorate to a point in which a middle ear device like the Esteem or a strong hearing aid can no longer provide the benefit that is needed for the user.
When hearing loss progresses to a certain point where acoustic amplification (amplification that uses your remaining hearing) is no longer beneficial, then a cochlear implant may be recommended. The cochlear implant electrically stimulates the inner ear at a significantly greater amount than any other acoustic device can. Although there is a bit of a learning curve, as hearing electrically sounds different than typical acoustic hearing, most people find that they can hear and understand speech significantly better with a cochlear implant than with a hearing aid or the Esteem.
If your hearing loss has progressed to this point where the Esteem can no longer provide the appropriate benefit and you are determined to be a cochlear implant candidate, the surgery to remove the Esteem and insert the cochlear implant can be performed at the same time. Fortunately, in most cases, the Esteem procedure does not prevent patients from having a cochlear implant in the future.
It is normal for hearing loss to evolve and progress over time, and it cannot be stopped. It's important to realize that there is whole continuum of care available. If your hearing aids are not enough it's might be time to explore the Esteem, and when that is not enough, a cochlear implant is another option. Managing your hearing loss is just like managing so many other health issues you want to monitor it to see if it’s declining and you want to make sure you are treating it with the best solution for the loss you have today.
If you have any questions about hearing devices, cochlear implants, or monitoring your hearing loss contact us and we can help!