New cures are always being discovered. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. For example, you may look at promising new research in the area of curing hearing loss and you figure you don’t really have to be all that careful. You’ll feel like they will most likely have a cure for deafness by the time you will exhibit any symptoms of hearing loss.
That wouldn’t be wise. Obviously, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still in good shape would be the better choice. Scientists are making some remarkable strides on the subject of treating hearing loss though, and that includes some possible cures in the future.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is just a fact of life. It’s not necessarily because of something you did wrong. It’s just part of the aging process. But developing hearing loss has some extreme drawbacks. Your social life, general wellness, and mental health can be substantially affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s going on around you. You will even raise your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. There’s lots of evidence to link neglected hearing loss to issues such as social isolation.
Usually, hearing loss is a chronic and degenerative problem. This means that there isn’t any cure and, as time passes, it’ll grow worse. This doesn’t pertain to every type of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. Even though there’s no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated.
If you come see us, we can help slow the development of your hearing loss and preserve your current levels of hearing. Often, this means using a hearing aid, which is commonly the optimal treatment for most forms of hearing loss. So, for most people, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And your quality of life will be greatly improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main kinds
There are differences in kinds of hearing loss. Hearing loss comes in two primary classes. You can treat one and the other can be cured. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets obstructed by something, you get this form of hearing loss. It might be caused by a buildup of earwax. Maybe it’s inflammation from an ear infection. When something is blocking your ear canals, whatever it might be, sound waves won’t be able to get to your inner ear. This kind 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 form of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are sensed by tiny hairs in your ears known as stereocilia. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. As you go through life, these hairs get damaged, by loud noises usually. And once they are damaged, the hairs don’t function. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes diminished. Your body won’t naturally regrow these hairs and we presently have no way to repair them. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Sensorineural hearing loss treatments
Sensorineural hearing loss may be irreversible but that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. The goal of any such treatment is to let you hear as much as you can given your hearing loss. 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? Common treatments include the following.
Hearing aids are likely the single most common way of treating hearing loss. They’re especially beneficial because hearing aids can be specially tuned for your distinct hearing loss. Using a hearing aid will let you better comprehend conversations and communicate with others over the course of your day to day life. Hearing aids can even slow down many symptoms of social solitude (and the danger of depression and dementia as a result).
Having your own pair of hearing aids is incredibly common, and there are many styles to choose from. You’ll have to speak with us about which is best for you and your particular level of hearing loss.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to bypass the ears entirely if hearing loss is total. 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 directly to your cochlear nerve. This allows your brain to convert those signals into sounds.
Cochlear implants are normally used when hearing loss is total, a condition called deafness. So even if your hearing has gone away completely, there are still treatment solutions available.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are always being researched by scientists.
In the past, curing hearing loss has been impossible, but that’s precisely what new advances are geared towards. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: These treatments make use of stem cells from your own body. The concept is that new stereocilia can be created by these stem cells (those little hairs in your ears). It’s not likely that we will have prescription gene therapy for a while, but for now, studies with animals are showing promise.
- Progenitor cell activation: So the stereocilia in your ear are being produced by your body’s stem cells. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells go dormant, and they are then known as progenitor cells. New therapies seek to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once again grow new stereocilia. This particular novel therapy has been used in humans, and the outcomes seem encouraging. There was a significant improvement, for most patients, in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. It isn’t really known how long it will be before these therapies will be widely available.
- GFI1 Protein: Some scientists have discovered a protein that’s critical to growing new stereocilia. Scientists are hoping that they can get a better concept of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by recognizing this protein. This treatment is very much still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Stay in the moment – deal with your hearing loss now
Some of these innovations are encouraging. But it’s important to stress that none of them are ready yet. So it’s a bad plan to wait to get treatment for your hearing loss. Protect your hearing today.
A miracle cure likely isn’t coming soon, so if you’re coping with hearing loss, give us a call to schedule your hearing exam.