New cures are regularly being discovered. That may be a positive or a negative. For instance, you might look at encouraging new research in the area of curing hearing loss and you decide you don’t really have to be all that cautious. You’ll feel like they will probably have a cure for deafness by the time you will notice any symptoms of hearing loss.
That wouldn’t be wise. Obviously, protecting your hearing now while it’s still in good shape would be the better choice. Scientists are making some incredible advances on the subject of treating hearing loss though, and that includes some possible cures in the future.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is simply something that occurs. It’s not necessarily because of something you did wrong. It just… is. But developing hearing loss has some serious disadvantages. Your social life, general health, and mental health can be considerably impacted by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s taking place around you. You will even raise your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. Lots of research exists that reveals a connection between social isolation and untreated hearing loss.
In general, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative problem. This means that there isn’t any cure and, over time, it’ll grow worse. 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 managed.
We can help you protect your levels of hearing and slow the development of hearing loss. Often, this means using a hearing aid, which is commonly the optimum treatment for most forms of hearing loss. So there are treatments for most individuals but there’s no cure. And those treatments can do a lot of good when it comes to enhancing your quality of life.
Hearing loss comes in two main kinds
Not all hearing loss is identical. There are two primary categories of hearing loss. One can be cured, the other can be treated. Here’s what you need to know:
- Conductive hearing loss: This form of hearing loss occurs because something gets in the way and obstructs your ear canal. Possibly it’s a clump of earwax (a bit gross, but it happens). Maybe it’s inflammation from an ear infection. Whatever it is, there’s something physically preventing sound waves from moving up to your inner ear. This kind of hearing loss will be cured when the source of the obstruction is removed.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more permanent form of hearing loss. There are delicate hairs in your ear (known as stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. These vibrations can be interpreted as sound by your brain. Unfortunately, these hairs are damaged as you go through life, typically by overly loud sounds. And these hairs stop functioning after they become damaged. This reduces your ability to hear. Your body doesn’t naturally regrow these hairs and we presently have no way to repair them. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Sensorineural hearing loss treatments
Just because sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. The goal of any such treatment is to allow you to hear as much as possible given your hearing loss. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, enhancing your situational awareness, and allowing you to hear conversations is the objective.
So, what are these treatment strategies? Here are some common treatments.
Most likely, the one most common way of managing hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be specially tuned to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. Using a hearing aid will allow you to better comprehend conversations and communicate with others during your day to day life. Many of the symptoms of social solitude can be prevented by using hearing aids (and the danger of depression and dementia as a result).
There are lots of different styles of hearing aid to choose from and they have become a lot more common. You’ll need to speak with us about which is best for you and your particular level of hearing loss.
When hearing loss is total, it sometimes makes sense to bypass the ears altogether. That’s what a cochlear implant does. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. This device directly transfers sound, which it has converted into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. Your brain then interprets those signals as sound.
When a person has a condition known as deafness, or total hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So there will still be treatment options even if you have completely lost your hearing.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are continuously being researched by scientists.
In the past, curing hearing loss has been impossible, but that’s exactly what new advances are aimed at. Here are a number of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: These therapies utilize stem cells from your own body. The idea is that new stereocilia can be created by these stem cells (those delicate 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 created by your body’s stem cells. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells become inactive, and they are then referred to as progenitor cells. These new treatments are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by waking up the progenitor cells. This specific novel therapy has been tried in humans, and the outcomes seem encouraging. Most patients noticed a substantial improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. How long it will be before these treatments are widely available, however, is unknown.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been identified by scientists that is crucial for the regrowth of stereocilia. Scientists are hoping that they can get a better idea of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by identifying this protein. Again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” stage than the “widely available” stage.
Stay in the moment – treat your hearing loss now
Some of these innovations are encouraging. But let’s remember that none of them are available to the public right now. So it’s not a good plan to wait to get treatment for your hearing loss. Be proactive about protecting your hearing.
A miracle cure likely isn’t coming soon, so if you’re struggling with hearing loss, give us a call to schedule your hearing exam.