Our experience shows that many Americans, faced with the problem of hearing loss, do not realize the seriousness of this situation, as a result, they are not in a hurry to consult a doctor.
Timely help allows you to quickly and effectively cope with the problem and return to a full and happy life. Knowledge is power, and that’s the reason why we tell our readers and patients about hearing health, examining in detail specific problems. It’s necessary to know how to deal with them. Today I will tell you about auditory neuropathy and how to treat it.
What do we know about auditory neuropathy?
For starters, let’s figure out what this problem is. Auditory neuropathy is an unusual type of hearing loss in which the sound goes into the ear but as it hits the 8th nerve, the fibers do not transmit the information to the brain in a synchronous manner. This will result in a significant decline of clarity of what is being said. The patient either partially or completely does not perceive speech and external sounds.
Auditory neuropathy is mostly diagnosed at birth, but there may be some instances when we diagnose it in an older individual. What are the main causes for suspecting AN/AD in newborns?
Dietary thiamine deficiency
Also some drugs used to treat pregnant women or newborns can cause damage to the inner hair cells of the ear
The signs mentioned above increase the likelihood of developing auditory neuropathy in newborns. It might be difficult for new parents to recognize that their child is having difficulty hearing especially if they are not familiar with the red flags.
Luckily, in the United States, babies are required to have their hearing screened prior to discharge from the hospital. There are specific protocols in place, to test for this type of loss, particualry if we have any of the mentioned red flags.
Our lead audiologist Dr. Stella Fulman recommends paying attention to the following important symptoms:
The child does not respond to loud sounds and noises
The child does not respond to your voice
The child does not try to make sounds
The child does not respond to the name
You should immediately contact your hearing care professionals if you notice such symptoms in your child. Only specialists can make the correct diagnosis and prescribe effective treatment.
Auditory neuropathy affects both children and adults, but in their case, the development of the problem is more often associated with age-related hearing loss. With age, changes occur in the auditory organ, and these changes lead to problems.
Fortunately, modern medical technologies help people with auditory neuropathy. American society has created all the necessary conditions so that deaf people do not feel incomplete or infringed on their rights.
In Deaf communities, the so-called sign language has long existed, with the help of which people with the same hearing problem can communicate with each other. Concerts and performances are often held in America to which sign language translators are specially invited for the Deaf. The latter are provided with jobs by the specifics of work.
Auditory neuropathy diagnosis methods
What needs to be done before starting treatment? That’s right, you should conduct a quality diagnosis. There may be problems with auditory neuropathy, as it can be confused with another form of hearing loss. An audiogram can show the absence of any problems, even if a person cannot understand speech or sounds.
We use several methods at once. They allow us to identify auditory neuropathy in a patient with 100% accuracy. It is vital when diagnosing auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder to look at the entire battery of tests, as it must add up to a specific pattern. Just one test is not enough to make the proper diagnosis.
The audiologist inserts a special highly sensitive microphone into the patient’s ear canal. The device captures the response of the inner ear receptors to sound. If there is no vibration, then there is an auditory problem.
Auditory Brainstem Response Test
The audiologist installs special equipment on the patient’s head; equipment includes headphones and special electrodes that are mounted near the ears and forehead. The computer sends out audio signals and captures the response. Thus, ABR allows you to see how the brain and auditory nerves respond to stimulation.
Acoustic Reflex Test
A probe is placed in the ear canal and loud sounds at several intensities and frequencies are presented to the ears. The response that is measured is a contraction of the stapedial reflex that is in the middle ear. In a properly working ear, this contraction happens everytime a loud sound is presented.
Using the three tests together paints a full picture. They are completely safe and painless, so audiologists use them even in the diagnosis of newborns and infants.
Based on the results of these two studies, the doctor can accurately determine the presence or absence of auditory neuropathy in the patient. These data allow the specialist to prescribe subsequent treatment.
How does Audiology Island help people with auditory neuropathy?
Despite the complexity of the diagnosis, auditory neuropathy can be treated and managed. This allows children to live in a society without experiencing serious communication problems. What technologies and methods of treatment exist?
Lip reading and sign language. These are the main methods that allow people to communicate without the use of special devices
Work with a sign teacher. The specialist helps deaf and hard of hearing children adapt in society
Today, the most popular treatment for auditory neuropathy is the use of a cochlear implant. This is a complex technological device, which stimulates the auditory nerves, allowing the brain to perceive sound signals. Surgery is required to install the cochlear implant. Therefore, you need to approach this question with all responsibility!
We know how important it is to choose the right device and undergo the necessary procedures before surgery, so we offer our patients the following Cochlear Implant Services:
Cochlear Implant Fittings and Speech Mappings
Maintenance and Adjustments
Here, at Audiology Island, you get a Comprehensive Audiological Assessment. We conduct a full diagnosis, evaluating the possibility of using all means and methods for hearing restoration.
We also consider all possible risks of surgical intervention and develop an individual rehabilitation plan. Installations of a cochlear implant is a serious step, it will be with the person throughout his life, therefore, it is necessary to correctly assess all the risks and benefits and only then make the final decision!
Keep in mind that there are situations where hearing aids can help avoid the need for an implant. Our hearing care professionals know how to select and program hearing aids to help people with auditory neuropathy restore lost abilities.
Hearing is an important part of our life. It’s difficult to live without it. Losing our hearing, we lose comfort in everyday life, acquiring, moreover, many difficulties. It is necessary to protect your hearing and conduct treatment on time. You know where to turn for help if you or your loved one suffering from hearing problems, including auditory neuropathy. Audiology Island will always help!
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]