Hearing loss affects millions of Americans each day. If you have a disorder of the ear that affects your temporal bone, surgery to correct hearing loss could be used in conjunction with medical options to allow you to hear better, perhaps even at normal levels. Surgery doesn’t restore normal hearing in every case, so it’s important to understand what types of surgery are likely to help which types of hearing loss.
How to Prepare for Your Ear Surgery
Surgery comes with risks and is no laughing matter. You need to prepare in a few different ways to ensure you recover and get through the procedure without any trouble. In order to get ready, prepare by completing the following:
- Find a loved one to give you’re a ride to and from your surgery, and perhaps even someone who can check in on you or help with your daily tasks while you recover.
- Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if you need to stop eating and drinking before your surgery and follow any other instructions they may give you to prepare. Don’t forget to mention if you have a cold, as illness may postpone your procedure.
- See if you need to continue taking your regular medications along with any meds you may receive as a result of your surgery. Make sure you can take them together and avoid taking medicine before your procedure, especially aspirin.
- Avoid smoking six to eight weeks before your surgery and continue to avoid afterward to ensure you heal right.
What Conditions can Benefit from an Ear Surgery?
Certain types of hearing loss can be helped with surgery, but only a tiny amount of people are good enough candidates to benefit from the surgery. The following conditions can be helped with certain types of surgery.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
The most common type of hearing loss found in adults, sensorineural loss occurs due to age, loud noise exposure, serious infections or disease, head trauma, medication-induced hearing loss, or a tumor. Surgery can not instill normal hearing, as the loss is permanent. However, surgery can bypass some of the damaged cells and nerve deafness.
If you have an obstruction blocking sounds from entering your inner ear or damage varying from temporary to severe, surgical options may be available to clear the fluid sitting in your ears. Inserting small tubes into the ear during surgery, the pressure and fluid building in your ears can be released. Often, this helps in cases with severe and frequent ear infections.
Short-term and long-term options exist depending on the severity of your case, and short-term tubes typically fall out around six to eighteen months later while long-term tubes must be removed by a doctor.
Usually performed on children, adults who suffer from the same or similar conditions involving serious ear infections may also benefit from this procedure. A doctor may also recommend surgery to fix malformed Eustachian tubes or eardrums, also common in Down Syndrome patients.
Normal Hearing Achieved for Otosclerosis with Stapedectomy
Stapedectomy, or ear surgery, can treat hearing loss caused by otosclerosis. In this procedure, a prosthetic ear bone is implanted to bypass abnormal bone tissue and arteries in the ear from stiffening. The bone that hardens, known as the stapes bones, can no longer vibrate as a result, which impairs hearing. Surgery improves hearing because it replaces the damaged stapes, allowing the ear to move normally and transmit sound.
The stapedectomy usually takes around an hour and a half, and your new artificial stapes should allow you to regain your hearing after around a month or so. A week after surgery, you will visit your doctor for a follow-up. Your hearing probably won’t seem any better until the swelling from the surgery has reduced.
When both ears have decreased movements of the stapes, surgery will probably be conducted on one ear at a time, starting with the ear with the worst hearing.
Risks Come with All Procedures
A professional healthcare provider can explain specific risks that come with the type of surgery you get in relation to your specific case, but all surgical procedures come with risks including the following:
- Infection or bleeding after surgery
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Damage to the eardrum, which may require additional surgery
- Your hearing may not get better or get worse after surgery if the stapes slip or the hearing aid is not helpful
Surgery is Not for Every Hearing Problem
As technology continues to advance, perhaps people with hearing problems will have new options. Today, surgery doesn’t help everyone. Some types of permanent hearing loss can’t be corrected, and there are many people who can live normally with hearing aids and don’t need to risk procedures. Speaking to your healthcare provider is the best way to find out if surgery can help your hearing loss.