Hearing loss affects millions of Americans every year, but only 20% ever seek treatment. Most people don’t realize that their hearing is fading until it has significantly deteriorated, as most hearing-related conditions occur slowly over time. If you’ve been experiencing hearing loss or traditional hearing aids haven’t helped your condition, there are solutions to restore one of your most important senses! The bone-anchored hearing aid, also known as BAHA, is a surgically implanted device that can improve hearing function for patients with different kinds of hearing loss.
A bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is an external auditory implant that assists our natural sound processing ability through bone conduction. The device is made of three parts: the implant, an external support, and a sound processor. It sidesteps the ear canal, sending sound vibrations directly to the bone and stimulating the vestibulocochlear nerve for clear hearing.
The BAHA system is used to treat patients with conductive hearing loss, single-sided deafness, or mixed hearing loss. Patients with chronic ear infections and hearing loss can benefit from this system as well! Unlike traditional hearing aids, BAHA is designed to bypass the ear canal. This greatly reduces the chance for recurring infection as a result of the hearing aid.
There are several BAHA devices designed for specific conditions, but the implantation process is generally the same. It is a simple procedure but is performed in small stages to allow proper healing in between steps. It may take several months before the process is completed to allow for total osseointegration, in which the bone fuses with the implant.
Implantation is usually performed under general anesthesia. If necessary, the surgical site may be shaved before the procedure. In stage one, your surgeon will make a small incision behind the external ear canal and a small hole is drilled directly into the temporal bone. The threaded titanium implant is placed within the hole, and the skin is re-draped over the implant.
One month after surgery, the sound processor may be fitted to the abutment. In some rare cases, this process can be done over the course of a single surgery without the need for osseointegration.
The BAHA system is a minimally invasive treatment option for people who are struggling with certain kinds of hearing loss. It is usually an outpatient procedure, and most patients can return home the same day. Occasionally, some patients with certain conditions may require overnight observation.
Due to the nature of this procedure, patients must avoid driving for at least 24 hours and plan for transportation after surgery. Patients can expect minor pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness at or near the surgical site. Over the counter pain medication can be used to alleviate these symptoms, but these effects should subside over the next several days.
Your surgeon will provide you with a full list of preventative measures you can take to ensure proper healing, and any warning signs you should look for during the process. If you have any questions about the BAHA device or the implantation procedure, talk with your surgeon before your procedure. Most patients can return to their regular activities one week after surgery.
Bone anchored hearing aids are FDA-approved to improve hearing outcome and quality of life for patients diagnosed with hearing loss. The BAHA system is clinically proven to offer a high success rate with lower risk and better results, giving the ability to hear clearly to thousands of patients since becoming commercially available in 1987.
Because hearing loss occurs gradually over time, it can be difficult for patients to detect by themselves. We highly recommend that everyone receive hearing and balance screenings every 5-10 years until the age of 50, and then every 3-5 years after. It is important to maintain regular testing to monitor changes in your hearing ability so that interventional treatments can be applied in early stages of hearing loss.
If you’re experiencing hearing loss, or traditional hearing aids haven’t worked for you, a bone-anchored hearing aid may be a solution for you. Contact Acadian Ear, Nose, Throat, & Facial Plastics by phone at (337) 237-0605 to schedule your initial appointment today and hear clearly with BAHA today!
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