|By Tom Charlier, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"I went to sleep around 10 o'clock and at about 12 o'clock I woke up with noise in my ear and a feeling of pressure," the 43-year-old Khan recalls.
More importantly, all hearing in that right ear was gone.
The affliction suffered by Khan is known as single-sided, or unilateral deafness -- the complete loss of hearing in one ear, coupled with tinnitus, while the other functions normally. In cases such as his, doctors presume the cause is a virus, although they aren't certain.
In the past, patients with the condition had little hope of improvement. The most effective operation to treat hearing loss -- a cochlear implant, involving the insertion of electrodes and other electronic equipment in the ear to provide hearing -- generally has been available only to patients deaf in both ears.
But last month, Khan received a cochlear implant at the
Although it's far more available in
There are a few main reasons why patients with the condition haven't been able to receive the implants, Shea said. One was the perception that single-sided deaf people weren't nearly as bad off as those deaf in both ears.
"Any hearing is better than no hearing," Shea said.
Also, the quality of hearing provided by a cochlear implant has been so much different from natural hearing that doctors feared it would prove distracting or confusing to patients with one good ear.
Technical improvements have changed all that.
"As the technology has improved, cochlear implants have only gotten better," Shea said. "Now, they have really evolved to where the hearing is said to be close to natural hearing."
For Khan, who experienced the hearing loss last November, the advances came just in time. A banker in
"When there are multiple speakers in different directions, I would really struggle to hear," he said during a recent visit to the Shea clinic.
In contrast to
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