Bilateral hearing loss can appear at any age and involves the loss of hearing in both ears. See why it appears and how to treat it.
Children with minimal or moderate bilateral hearing loss run the risk of suffering certain consequences. These have to do, above all, with academic performance and the ability to understand and make use of language. All this usually leads to social and emotional problems.
Bilateral hearing loss in the elderly also brings with it certain problems. These usually have to do with the deterioration of communication skills. Thus, they have a poorer quality of life than their peers with normal hearing. This is due to a progressive isolation that conditions the reduction of social activity.
This feeling of exclusion favors the appearance of depressive symptoms. For all the above reasons, the need to treat bilateral hearing loss at any age becomes evident.
Benefits of bilateral hearing loss treatment
In general, the benefits provided by hearing aid devices have to do with three aspects. We will develop each of them.
Ability to listen to a wider range of frequencies
Individuals with bilateral hearing loss have difficulty listening to certain frequencies of sound. Thus, someone can have problems when it comes to hearing high-pitched sounds and at the same time hearing perfectly serious sounds. The hearing aid devices allow listening to a wider range of frequencies.
Better ability to distinguish the origin of sounds
Hearing problems are closely linked to communication and social skills.
In the human being, the ears contribute to hearing independently. The information that the brain receives from the two ears is different unless both are at the same distance from the origin of the sound.
It is precisely this difference that allows the location of the sound source. Therefore, it is important that both ears have the same hearing. The hearing aid devices provide benefits in this regard.
Once this is achieved, the identification of frequencies will also be improved. In practice, the distinction of some frequencies from others will favor the recognition of sounds. Thus, the ability to understand voices in noisy environments will also be improved.
The correct functioning of the ear will bring benefits of various kinds. It has been proven that they improve the levels of attention and memory, contributing to communication skills. This has a favorable effect on the patient’s social situation. And, therefore, it contributes to the improvement, if not to the disappearance, of the possible depressive symptoms derived from isolation.
Therapeutic options for bilateral hearing loss
The standard practice in children with a loss, at least moderate, of hearing, is to provide auditory technology. However, in children with a lower level of hearing loss, the use of these technologies is controversial. There is a limited amount of data that the clinician can take as a reference when making this decision.
Studies support that unilateral auditory support can be helpful in subjects with bilateral hearing loss. Its use generally increases the ability to distinguish sounds and improves language comprehension. However, there are several therapeutic options that provide bilateral support.
Implantable bone conduction hearing aids
These are devices that are implanted in the temporal bone. This is the bone of the skull that supports the ear. These headphones pick up the vibrations that sound generates in the air and transmit them to the inner ear. In this way, they manage to solve the driving problems that could generate hearing loss.
These devices could allow the development of language capabilities until the patient achieves normal communication. It seems, then, that its application is the best therapeutic option for children with bilateral hearing loss.
However, children under the age of three are too young to undergo this surgery. In these cases, doctors look for a more conservative temporary solution.
Bilateral cochlear implants
Cochlear implants simulate the normal functioning of the cochlea.
Cochlear implants are a type of device that acts as a cochlea. The cochlea or snail is the auditory organ par excellence. In this way, the problems from the malfunction of this body will disappear.
Currently, there are many recipients of unilateral cochlear implants. They constitute the cases in which the residual hearing capacity of the non-implanted ear can be used. However, the majority of studies comparing bilateral and unilateral implants, in general, are in favor of bilateral ones.
Bimodal hearing aids
This therapeutic option is one in which a hearing aid is implanted on one side and a cochlear implant on the other.
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