Hearing loss typically occurs to both ears as a result of aging or noise exposure. Occasionally hearing loss may occur suddenly to only one ear due to: a head injury, a global health condition such as vascular disease (stroke), or inner ear infection resulting in a mild to profound loss of hearing. Anyone experiencing a sudden change in their hearing should seek immediate medical attention from their primary physician and/or ear, nose and throat provider. If after medical treatment the hearing does not return to previous levels within a few weeks, the loss is considered permanent. Having a hearing loss in one ear can make it hard to hear when someone is on the poor side in addition to making it difficult to localize to sound and understand conversations in a crowd. Some people are helped with a traditional hearing aid to the poor side, but if their loss of hearing is severe to profound or speech understanding is too poor, traditional aids may not be helpful.
Those who do not experience recovery of their hearing are candidates for a device called a BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Appliance). The BAHA has two components. A titanium implant or magnet is surgically placed on the poor hearing side. An external device called a processor is worn on the same poor hearing side. The processor picks up sounds with a microphone and transfers the sound to an abutment or magnetic attachment of the titanium implant. The sound is then transmitted to the better ear through bone conduction and perceived by the best cochlea or sensory portion of the ear.
The BAHA is appropriate for people with single sided deafness and normal hearing in the other ear. It is also implanted in people who have a conductive hearing loss to one or both ears due to middle ear disease. While most are able to wear hearing aids, some are unable to use amplification due to frequent ear drainage. Consult your Mercy Audiologist if you are interested in this technology to determine if you might be a candidate.