Imagine being a teenager and losing your hearing and not even realizing it. That's what happened to Ogden resident David Bingham whose hearing loss was so gradual that initially he didn't notice anything was wrong. At first his parents didn't notice either and thought perhaps he was ignoring them sometimes and attributed it to "being a teenager."
By the time David went to the doctor around the eighth grade, he had lost 50 percent hearing in his right ear and about 20 percent in his left ear. Something had to be done, but it wasn't clear how the hearing loss had occurred.
"I had a lot of ear infections as a kid and the doctors thought that maybe those infections caused scar tissue to form," says David. But even after a couple surgeries, including removing scar tissue and putting tubes in his ears to see if it was a drainage problem, the hearing loss stayed the same.
The only accident David had been involved in was an ATV rollover when he was 12 years old, but the injuries were not significant. In that accident, he'd hit his head and broke his arm, but otherwise was fine. No one thought anything about his ears or the hearing loss being connected to that accident.
The diagnosis: otosclerosis
That was until David met with Michael Scheuller, MD, a McKay-Dee Hospital ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician who provides medical and surgical care. By then David, who is now 25, had been wearing hearing aids for almost a decade, pretty much all through his teens and early 20s. "I really didn't think anything would fix it at this point," David says. He was used to the inconveniences for hearing aids, including the constant need for repair and having to remove them while swimming or taking a shower.
Dr. Scheuller came highly recommended by a relative who encouraged David to meet with him. "Dr. Scheuller pretty much looked at my medical records, knew exactly what was wrong, and knew what we could do to fix it as soon as he walked into the room."
The diagnosis: A disease called otosclerosis that causes the stapes bone in the ear — the tiniest bone in the body —to stop working properly. All the nerves in David's ear were healthy, but the stapes bone wasn't able to vibrate and carry sound. Dr. Scheuller explained that if you hit your head, such as in the ATV crash, it can speed up the disease, which can be caused by genetics.
A life-changing procedure
Outpatient surgery, called a stapedectomy, was recommended, as David was a good candidate for it. The procedure removes the stapes bone and implants a prosthetic device in its place that permits sound waves to pass through the ear. The surgery was scheduled for a month later.
"The results of the surgery were life-changing," says David, who explains that he had to wait a week afterward to experience the results. "It was like putting on glasses for the first time where you can see shapes and definition. I could hear the wind going past my ears, a piano playing down the hall, the buzz of the refrigerator running."
David has since recovered all of his hearing thanks to this sound (excuse the pun) treatment, which included surgery on both ears. He is currently in his junior year at Weber State University studying athletic therapy and eventually plans to work in healthcare and become a physician assistant (PA).
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