One of the unfortunate possible side effects of organ transplantation is profound hearing loss. For some patients, the medications they must take to suppress their immune system and prevent their body from rejecting the new organ can cause deafness. This is because a lowered immune system leaves the inner ear at risk of an infection. In addition, some transplant antibiotics can destroy important cells in the inner ear that produce fluid to convert sound waves into activity the brain can interpret.
In the past, patients who lose their hearing have been advised against getting cochlear implants because they require immunizations to prevent common infections, thereby increasing the chance of organ rejection. However, a new study reported by ScienceDaily shows that implants can be a safe and effective way of restoring an organ transplant patient’s hearing if they wait at least six months after the transplant. They must also take the correct antibiotic before and after the procedure. This can be especially helpful for renal transplant patients who experience hearing loss after receiving a donated kidney. During the procedure, a small electronic device is surgically implanted behind the person’s ear, between the scalp and skull. It directly stimulates the auditory nerve and helps the person get an accurate representation of the sounds in their environment.
The study cited several examples of patients whose hearing was restored with the help of cochlear implants under the correct circumstances. If you are a candidate for organ transplantation, be sure to talk to an audiologist on your True Care Advantage plan about your options for treating potential hearing loss. It’s important to take all parts of your health into consideration before undergoing a transplant.