Hearing Loss Care and Treatment
Why Choose Treatment for Hearing Loss at University of Colorado Hospital?
University of Colorado Hospital provides services, resources, education and research to support the needs of hard-of-hearing or deaf individuals, as well as health care professionals involved in treatment.
All activities center on helping patients and their families to choose the most appropriate ways to treat hearing loss, and strive to optimize the quality of life for all who are served.
To request an appointment, call us at (720) 848-2800 or submit an online form.
Cochlear implant a sound decision for area senior
Denver's 9News report about how 91-year-old Dick Gray – a friend of pioneering audiologist Dr. Marion Downs – took her advice and got a cochlear implant at University of Colorado Hospital.
Watch the video
What is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss affects more than 28 million people in the United States to some degree. More than 80% of the cases are irreversible.
Hearing loss can make it difficult to communicate with others. The condition produces no physical warning signs and is almost always painless. Regular testing is necessary to minimize the potential adverse effects.
Tests for Hearing Loss
A basic hearing test shows you well you can hear sounds of different levels and frequencies. The test also shows your ability to recognize words at different sound levels.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
The ABR test measures how well your auditory nerve transmits signals from the inner ear to the brain, where the signals are interpreted. You will have electrodes placed behind the earlobes and on the forehead, and will then listen through earphones for sounds.
Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan
Your doctor may order X-ray pictures of the temporal bones at the base of your skull. These bones protect the organs that control your hearing and balance.
The ECoG test measures activity in your inner ear. As with the ABR test, you will have electrodes placed behind the earlobes and on the forehead, but another will be placed in your ear canal. You will then listen through earphones for sounds.
Newborn Hearing Screening and Follow-up Assessment
Hearing specialists use physical and behavioral tests to screen newborns for hearing loss. If a newborn fails the initial screening, follow-up tests are ordered.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)
This test measures sounds that the ear itself produces when tiny hair cells on the cochlea are stimulated. A probe with a sound-generating loudspeaker is placed in the ear canal. A microphone in the probe captures the sounds emitted from the cochlea. Low levels of otoacoustic emissions indicate hearing loss.
Treatments for Hearing Loss
If you have some ability to hear, you may receive a hearing aid, an electronic device that amplifies sounds. The type of hearing aid you receive will depend on the type and degree of your hearing loss, as well as the shape of your ear.
Assistive Listening Technology
Technologies such as FM systems and telephone amplifying systems can further improve your hearing. These devices help you to tune out background noise and improve your ability to hear spoken words.
A cochlear implant is a device, surgically placed in the inner ear (cochlea), that electrically stimulates the auditory nerve. This helps the ear to transmit sounds as nerve impulses to the brain. If you have severe hearing loss in both ears and are getting limited help from hearing aids, you may be a candidate for a cochlear implant.
Medical and Surgical Specialty Care of the Ear
Conditions in the ear and other parts of the body may require medical and/or surgical treatment. These include:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Ear infections
- Eardrum perforations
- Facial paralysis
- Cholesteatoma (growths in the middle ear, which transmits sound to the inner ear)
- Acoustic neuroma (growths in nerves in the inner ear)
Your doctor may perform laser or other kinds of surgery to treat these conditions.
Hearing loss can affect your ability to speak and to understand language. Children and adults with hearing loss are often referred to speech-language pathologists. These specialists assess and treat the communication problems.
Living with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss generally occurs invisibly and painlessly, often over a period of 25 to 30 years. The gradual loss can mean that you may be unaware of it. It may fall to someone close to you to notice and mention the problem.
Signs of hearing loss include:
- Asking people to repeat
- Being unable to distinguish words clearly
- Having difficulty understanding group conversation
- Avoiding social situations
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Playing radio and TV louder than others would like
Living with hearing loss begins with scheduling a hearing evaluation. If you have lost hearing, you will receive a consultation on options to improve your hearing in ways that fit your lifestyle.
Getting a Second Opinion About Hearing Loss
An initial hearing test may not show a hearing loss. If you feel you need more testing, you may want to seek a second opinion.
Additional Hearing Loss Resources
Recommended Web resources for additional information on hearing loss:
Marion Downs Hearing Center
Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind
Hands and Voices International
Hearing Loss Research
Research at University of Colorado Hospital improves understanding and treatment of hearing loss. Scientists and clinicians collaborate to reach this goal.