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Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Dec 05, 2023

What is the treatment?

Sensorineural Hearing Loss is also known as nerve deafness.

How is the treatment done?

The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss mainly falls into three broad categories namely; pharmacological, surgical and management. Since this particular type of hearing loss is considered permanent, there are no such recommended treatments. In the pharmacological aspect of the hearing loss, the treatment adopted is palliative rather than curative and basically serves the function of preventing progressive damage.

Another method of manage sensorineural hearing loss is by cochlear implants. The quality of sound is different yet anything is better than not being able to hear at all.

Another treatment to sensorineural hearing loss is via the means of hearing aids. Patients suffering from this type of hearing loss either commonly adopt hearing aids or train in better communication via lip reading etc.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

When the hearing loss is profound in both the ears, an operation/surgery is performed which requires the implantation of cochlear in the ear. Though mostly patients opt for hearing aids yet the surgical treatment is also commonly adopted. It’s basically the implantation of a battery powered electronic medical device in the inner ear. These cochlear implants stimulate the cochlear nerve endings directly. These implants perform the function of the damaged parts of the cochlea to send sound signals to the brain. These include both internally implanted electrodes and magnets along with external components. The internal component is surgically inserted under the skin behind the ear and resembles a behind-the-ear hearing aid and it is connection to the internal component through the skin with the help of an external magnetic disk. The quality of hearing is certainly different than natural hearing but it allows us the patient to perceive the sounds and environmental factors better.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

The treatment for implantation is meted out to only those patients who suffer from profound sensorineural hearing loss in both the ears. Cochlear implants can be performed in children as young as 12 months old and in elderly adults as well. Most commonly people prefer using hearing aids rather than undergoing cochlear implant.


Are there any side effects?

Despite cochlear implants having been performed in more than 180,000 people around the globe, there are still a certain range of people who are advised to not choose cochlear implantation. In order to be considered eligible for a cochlear implant, an evaluation by a physician or an audiologist is absolutely necessary. People, who function well with hearing aids, are advised to not go for cochlear implants. These implants are performed only on people who suffer from profound hearing loss.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Cochlear implants are not a simple operation at all. They bring with themselves plenty of risks. The general problems include bleeding, infection and side effects from the medicine which can send you off to sleep during the surgical procedure. The most common complications that arise due to cochlear implants are nerve damage which causes paralysis or weakness in your face. Sometimes, the people who undergo cochlear implant also suffer from tinnitus which refers to a constant ringing in your ears. Dizziness and balance problems can also occur as an aftermath of cochlear implant. A very serious problem which occurs due to this treatment of the sensorineural hearing loss is meningitis which causes infection to the membrane around the brain.

Apart from this, the patient suffers from nausea, disorientation, pressure over the implanted ear and sore throat.

How long does it take to recover?

Once you undergo this treatment for your sensorineural hearing loss, lists of rules have to be adhered to in order to make the surgery successful. At first the sound you hear may appear synthetic or mechanical, which might result in irritation to the patient. It will take a few days or even weeks to get used to the sounds being heard since they are quite different from normal hearing.

During exercises such as swimming or simply going for a bath, there are chances that the device can get wet, as a result patients should either cover the device with a waterproof layer or opt for a waterproof device during the implant.

If there is an infection or hearing problems continue to occur due to the device not functioning properly, immediately consult the doctor rather than waiting for the problem to fade away, With cochlear implants, the chances of infection increase and utmost care has to be maintained. The same goes for patients who used hearing aids. Care needs to be maintained with those devices as well in order to prevent any damage.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

If you are using hearing aids, then in that very instant you will be able to hear the sounds loudly. While in the case of cochlear implants, the physician tends to wait for at least a month before providing the patient with external components for the implantation surgery. At least a gap of 3 to 6 weeks is needed for the operation to heal before the transmitter is provided to the patient.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The cost for the treatment of sensorineural hearing loss in India varies depending upon the type of treatment you choose. In case you opt for hearing aids, then the price of the device depends upon the type of technology and the brand of the product. Generally hearing aids range from about Rs. 11,000 to 50,000 but sometimes the prices can go as high up as 70,000/-.

Cochlear implants are much more expensive than hearing aids. While the Government of India is working on ways to reduce the cost of the implant surgery in order to make it available to a wide range of people, the surgery still costs around INR 80,000 to 1,00,000/-

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

When we talk about treatment of sensorineural hearing loss, we are mostly dealing with devices such as hearing aids or external and internal transmitters in case of cochlear implants. The results aren’t permanent if we look at the view generally. These devices simply provide patients an extra help in being able to hear properly, however, infection or damage to the devices is very common. As a result of this, patients might have to undergo cochlear implants again or purchase a new hearing aid once the older one stops working properly. Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent in nature and this should be remembered.

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Written ByDr. Anjan Jyoti BhuyanMS - ENTEar-Nose-Throat (ENT)
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