Wireless hearing aids
A wireless device has two main components: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter broadcasts the captured sound, and the receiver detects the broadcast audio and enables the incoming audio stream to be connected to accommodations such as hearing aids or captioning systems.
Three types of wireless systems are commonly used: FM, audio induction loop, and Infrared. Each system has advantages and benefits for particular uses. FM systems can be battery operated or plugged into an electrical outlet. FM system produces an analog audio signal, meaning they have extremely high fidelity. Many FM systems are very small in size, allowing them to be used in mobile situations. The audio induction loop permits the listener with hearing loss to be free of wearing a receiver provided that the listener has a hearing aid or cochlear implant processor with an accessory called a “telecoil”. If the listener does not have a telecoil, then he or she must carry a receiver with an earpiece. As with FM systems, the infrared (IR) system also requires a receiver to be worn or carried by the listener. An advantage of IR wireless systems is that people in adjoining rooms cannot listen in on conversations, making it useful for situations where privacy and confidentiality are required. Another way to achieve confidentiality is to use a hardwired amplifier, which contains or is connected to a microphone and transmits no signal beyond the earpiece plugged directly into it
Illustration of a cochlear implant
There is no treatment surgical or otherwise for hearing lost due to the most common causes (age, noise and genetic defects). For a few specific conditions, surgical intervention can provide a remedy:
Surgical correction of superior canal dehiscence
myringotomy, surgical insertion of drainage ventilation tubes in the tympanic membrane. Such placement is usually temporary until the underlying pathology (infection or other inflammation) can be resolved.
radiotherapy or surgical excision of vestibular schwannoma or acoustic neuroma, though, in most cases, it is unlikely that hearing will be preserved
Stapedectomy and stapedotomy for otosclerosis – replacement or reshaping of the stapes bone of the middle ear can restore hearing in cases of conductive hearing loss
Surgical and implantable hearing aids are an alternative to conventional external hearing aids. If the ear is dry and not infected, an air conduction aid could be tried; if the ear is draining, a direct bone condition hearing aid is often the best solution. If the conductive part of the hearing loss is more than 30–35 dB, an air conduction device could have problems overcoming this gap. A bone-anchored hearing aid could, in this situation, be a good option. The active bone conduction hearing implant Bonebridge is also an option. This implant is invisible under the intact skin and therefore minimises the risk of skin irritations.
Cochlear implants improve outcomes in people with hearing loss in either one or both ears. They work by artificial stimulation of the cochlear nerve by providing an electric impulse substitution for the firing of hair cells. They are expensive, and require programming along with extensive training for effectiveness.
Cochlear implants as well as bone conduction implants can help with single sided deafness. Middle ear implants or bone conduction implants can help with conductive hearing loss
People with cochlear implants are at a higher risk for bacterial meningitis. Thus, meningitis vaccination is recommended. People who have hearing loss, especially those who develop a hearing problem in childhood or old age, may need support and technical adaptations as part of the rehabilitation process. Recent research shows variations in efficacy but some studies show that if implanted at a very young age, some profoundly impaired children can acquire effective hearing and speech, particularly if supported by appropriate rehabilitation.