Can you Recover from Hearing Loss?
Children laughing. The gentle percussion of a summer rainstorm. A guitar strumming chords at a rock concert. We all have a sound that’s sweet to our ears, but what happens when the world goes quiet? Can you recover from hearing loss?
The answer is that it depends on the type of hearing loss. Some hearing loss goes away on its own, some hearing loss can be reversed with medical intervention, and other hearing loss is permanent (although the symptoms can be treated). There are two main types of hearing loss, and a third type that is a combination of both. The cause of hearing loss will determine treatment, and if recovery is possible. Conductive hearing loss is due to an obstruction or damage to the outer or middle part of the ear canal. Conductive hearing loss is less common, but much more treatable. Because it does not involve damage to the nerves that carry sounds to the brain, the prognosis for reversing hearing loss is better. More common is sensorineural hearing loss, which is caused by damage to the auditory nerve or inner ear, and has a lower likelihood of reversal.
Earwax buildup can muffle sound, but the blockage can be removed to restore hearing to normal. Most earwax can be cleaned out with at-home treatments, but an ENT doctor or audiologist can also assist if necessary. Hearing loss from earwax buildup is reversible.
Ear infections are a nuisance that can dampen sound when fluid builds up in the middle ear. The good news is that most ear infections will go away on their own, and hearing will return to normal upon healing. Some ear infections require antibiotics, but full recovery will still bring back full hearing.
Ruptured eardrums are painful, and can take weeks to heal. Luckily, they will heal on their own as well, and the associated hearing loss will also heal. If you have a ruptured eardrum, it’s important to take care to avoid an infection which can lengthen the duration of hearing loss.
Broken bones in the middle ear can impact hearing. For severe fractures or breaks, surgery may be required to repair hearing loss. Less severe fractures will heal on their own, as will the impacted hearing.
Damaged cilia, the small hairs in the inner ear, lead to permanent hearing loss. These microscopic hairs act like antennas, picking up sounds and passing their signals to the brain. Long-term exposure to loud noises slowly damages the hairs, preventing them from transmitting messages to the brain.
Age-related hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss, and is not reversible. While there is no recovery from this type of hearing loss, it can be managed through the use of medical devices like hearing aids or cochlear implants.
If you’ve noticed noises and conversations don’t sound as sharp or loud anymore, or if you suspect you may be suffering from hearing loss, it’s important to contact a doctor right away. Our trusted audiologists can diagnose hearing loss and create a treatment plan tailored to you and your lifestyle. Call (602) 956-1250 to schedule an appointment today.