Treatment for Hearing loss
Update for Eustachian Tube dysfunction Treatment
The new treatment for people who can't pop their ears is now available.
Not being able to pop your ears can be more than just annoying. For some people it can be extremely distressing and severely affect their quality of life. This sensation which is similar to what happens when you go on a flight, was until recently very difficult to treat. The advice up until now was to just keep popping your ears or have a grommet inserted. Mr Vik Veer has been involved in experimental treatments for Eustachian Tube dysfunction since 2015. This treatment is now available in the UK for the first time.
This new treatment involves inserting a deflated balloon into the blocked Eustachian Tube via the nose. The balloon is then inflated to open up the Eustachian Tube and allow it ventilate the middle ear again. This procedure is done under general anaesthetic. If you are interested in this treatment please book an appointment to discuss the options and investigate if this is suitable for you.
Types of Hearing loss
Broadly there are two different types of hearing loss. The first type is nerve damage (also known as sensorineural hearing loss), which is due to damage to the hearing nerve (cochlear nerve) or the brain. The most common example of this is old age related hearing loss (presbyacusis). Most forms of sensorineural hearing loss are treated with hearing aids as there is currently very little that other treatments can do.
The second type of hearing loss is when the sound from the outside world is blocked from reaching the nerve. This is also known as conductive hearing loss. This is the type of hearing loss that you can recreate yourself by occluding your ear canals with your own fingers tips. It sounds like you are underwater, or far away from the noise.
Conductive hearing loss is the type of hearing loss that can normally be repaired with help from an ENT consultant surgeon. Below is a list of the common causes of conductive hearing loss:
- Ear wax
- Infections blocking the ears with swelling or discharge debris (otitis externa or otitis media)
- Foreign body in the ear canal (like a cotton bud tip or something similar)
- Ear drum hole (tympanic perforation)
- Glue ear
- Eustachian Tube dysfunction (feeling like you need to pop your ears to hear properly)
- Cholesteatoma (a disease that causes recurrent infections and hearing loss – should be treated as soon as possible)
- Damage to one of the bones of hearing (Dislocated ossicle from a head injury, damage from a previous operation, cholesteatoma)
- Otosclerosis (a bit like arthritis of one of the bones of hearing causing it to seize up and stop moving.)
This is by no means a full list of causes, but it does highlight the more common ones. The good news is that most of these causes are treatable without the use of hearing aids afterwards (assuming that the nerve of hearing is good).
There are less invasive operations that can also be done to improve hearing, most of which may be done under local anaesthetic if you wish. More detail about some of these operations is provided below.
This is an operation to close a hole in the ear drum. There are many different ways of performing this operation, but generally Mr Vik Veer prefers to avoid any scars around the ear, keeping all the incisions within the ear canal. This seems to be less painful for patients and also avoids shaving any hair or leaving any scars.
Cholesteatoma Surgery – Mastoidectomy
Cholesteatoma is a mass which slowly damages the bones of hearing in most cases. Fixing the damage afterwards is difficult as normally reconstruction of these millimetre sized bones is required. Mr Vik Veer prefers to use techniques developed by Mr John Hamilton in Gloucester which aim to avoid removing the bones at all. The cholesteatoma is removed with a laser but the vital hearing structures are kept in place. This procedure is not possible in more advanced disease so a more standard operation is used in these cases.