Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

It's easy to take our hearing for granted. But hearing loss is on the rise and is the third most common health condition in the U.S. Certain conditions, including age, illness and genetics, may contribute to hearing loss as well as other issues such as medications and exposure to loud, continuous noise. The hearing physicians at Nebraska Medicine will get to the root of your problem and help you regain some of your hearing when possible or manage permanent hearing loss with hearing aids or other devices.

Why Nebraska Medicine for Help in Hearing:

A Team Approach to Helping You Hear Better

Treating hearing loss depends on the type and source of your hearing loss. Our audiologists will work closely with our Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) physicians to diagnose, manage and/or treat your hearing problems.

When surgery is required, our ENT physicians are experienced in performing surgeries that can reverse hearing loss caused by problems such as otosclerosis (abnormal bone growth), scar tissue or infection. Other conditions like Ménière's disease, a disorder of the inner ear, is sometimes treatable with medication and diet modification.

If you have experienced permanent hearing loss, hearing aids can help. While hearing aids do not restore normal hearing, they do help people regain much of their lost hearing, allow for improved communication with others and enable continued interaction in family and community.

For certain types of hearing loss, implantable devices such as bone anchored hearing aids or cochlear implants, may be utilized to improve hearing. In both of these situations, the audiologists and ENT physicians work together with the patient to determine which device would be most appropriate.

Our audiologists and ENT physicians will help you determine which type of hearing aid or implantable device is best for you.

Hearing Aids

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition in the United States after arthritis and heart disease. Around 28 million adults in America report some degree of hearing loss and two to three out of every 1000 children are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears (NIDCD). The first symptoms many adults notice is the person speaking sounds like they are mumbling and find it difficult to hear in noisy situations like restaurants and auditoriums.

With continual improvement in hearing aid technology and the expertise of an audiologist, hearing aids have become more effective in meeting the needs of their users. In the past several years, hearing aids have been created to be more cosmetically appealing, more comfortable as well as more fun to use. Many hearing aids are now compatible with smart phones and may be directly controlled by an app on the smart phone as well as stream phone calls directly to the hearing aids. Nebraska Medicine offers several different hearing aids.  An audiologist will work with each patient to decide what style and technology option best suits their needs.

For some patients, traditional hearing aids are not the most effective way to manage hearing loss. In these instances, a bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) or cochlear implant may be appropriate. In-depth testing is completed by an audiologist to assess candidacy for each of these devices.

Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA)

A bone anchored hearing aid, or BAHA, is a surgically implantable system that treats multiple types of hearing loss. A titanium implant is placed during a short surgical procedure. Overtime, the skull bone will grow around the implant. A sound processor is worn behind the ear which transmits the sound directly to the inner ear through vibrations, bypassing the ear canal and middle ear. This system is used for people with chronic ear infections, congenital atresia and single-sided hearing loss who cannot benefit from conventional hearing aids.

Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is a device that is used for patients with hearing loss that cannot be effectively managed through the use of hearing aids. The cochlear implant provides sound through direct electrical stimulation of the hearing nerve which carries sound signals to the brain. The device is used for both children and adults with permanent hearing loss.

The cochlear implant is comprised of two parts: an internal component and an external component. The internal component is placed by an otologist during an outpatient surgical procedure. About a month later, after the surgical site is healed, the external component is added and programmed by an audiologist. Throughout the six months following initial programming, patients work closely with their audiologist to continue to adjust settings as the brain adjusts to the new sound.

Although the cochlear implant does not restore normal hearing, in most cases, a significant improvement in hearing and understanding are found. Over time, most implant users are able to understand speech in everyday situations. With more experience, some patients are able to talk on the telephone and enjoy music. The cochlear implant is described as sounding more mechanical than normal, acoustic hearing. However, the longer the cochlear implant is worn, the more natural the sound becomes.

Accreditations and Awards

Highly Ranked Care

Nebraska Medicine is ranked among the nation’s best. Each year, U.S. News & World Report surveys the nation’s roughly 5,000 hospitals to come up with the year’s list of Best Hospitals.

Just 3 percent of the hospitals analyzed for Best Hospitals earn national ranking in even one specialty. We were ranked nationally in ENT in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals ranking and recognized as a high-performing hospital in ENT in the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.