New cures are always being discovered. That can be a good or bad thing. You may figure that you don’t really need to be all that cautious about your hearing because you saw some encouraging research about prospective future cures for deafness. By the time you start exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have found the cure for deafness.
That’s not a smart idea. Clearly, protecting your hearing now while it’s still in good shape would be the better choice. There is some amazing research emerging which is revealing some awesome advances toward effectively treating hearing loss.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is just a fact of life. It’s not necessarily because of something you did wrong. It just… is. But developing hearing loss has some major drawbacks. Your social life, general health, and mental health can be considerably impacted by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s happening around you. You will even increase your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. Lots of evidence exists that reveals a connection between social isolation and untreated hearing loss.
In general, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative problem. So, over time, it will keep getting worse and there isn’t any cure. This doesn’t apply to every form of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. Even though there is no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated.
We can help you preserve your levels of hearing and slow the development of hearing loss. Hearing aids are frequently the form of treatment that will be most appropriate for most types of hearing loss. So, for most people, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And your quality of life will be immensely improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main types
There are differences in forms of hearing loss. There are two main categories of hearing loss. One can be cured, the other can be treated. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: This type of hearing loss takes place because something gets in the way and blocks your ear canal. It might be caused by a buildup of earwax. Possibly, an ear infection is causing swelling. Whatever it is, there’s something physically stopping sound waves from moving up to your inner ear. This form of hearing loss can certainly be cured, typically by removing the blockage (or treating whatever is creating the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more permanent type of hearing loss. There are delicate hairs in your ear (called stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. Unfortunately, these hairs are destroyed as you go through life, typically by overly loud noises. And these hairs stop working after they get damaged. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes impaired. There’s currently no way to repair these hairs, and your body doesn’t make new ones naturally. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Sensorineural hearing loss treatments
Sensorineural hearing loss may be irreversible but that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. Given your loss of hearing, allowing you to hear as much as possible is the goal of treatment. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, improving your situational awareness, and letting you hear conversations is the objective.
So, what are these treatment methods? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Most likely, the single most common way of managing hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be specially calibrated to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. Wearing a hearing aid will allow you to better comprehend conversations and interact with others during your daily life. Hearing aids can even delay many symptoms of social solitude (and, as a result, decrease your danger of dementia and depression).
Having your own pair of hearing aids is incredibly common, and there are lots of styles to choose from. You’ll need to talk to us about which is best for you and your specific level of hearing loss.
Often, it will be necessary to bypass the ears altogether if hearing loss is complete. A cochlear implant does just that. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. The device picks up on sounds and translates those sounds into electrical energy, which is then transmitted straight to your cochlear nerve. This allows your brain to translate those signals into sounds.
Cochlear implants are typically used when hearing loss is complete, a condition known as deafness. So even if your hearing has gone away completely, there are still treatment options available.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are always being researched by scientists.
These new advances are often geared towards “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously been impossible. Here are a number of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: Your own stem cells are used in this kind of treatment. The concept is that these stem cells can then transform into new stereocilia (those delicate hairs inside of your ears). It’s not likely that we will see prescription gene therapy for some time, but for now, studies with animals are promising.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear initiate the generation of stereocilia. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells go dormant, and they are then referred to as progenitor cells. New treatments seek to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once again grow new stereocilia. Encouraging results for these new therapies have come from early human trials. There was a substantial improvement, for most people, in their ability to hear and understand speech. It isn’t really known how long it will be before these treatments will be widely available.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been discovered by researchers that is critical for the regrowth of stereocilia. Scientists are hoping that they can get a clearer concept of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by recognizing this protein. Once again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” phase than the “widely available” phase.
Don’t wait to get your hearing loss treated
Many of these innovations are promising. But let’s remember that none of them are available to the public at this time. Which means that it’s wise to live in the here and now. Protect your hearing today.
A miracle cure likely isn’t coming soon, so if you’re struggling with hearing loss, give us a call to schedule your hearing test.