Every day scientists are discovering new cures. That can be a good or bad thing. For example, you might look at promising new research in the area of curing hearing loss and you decide you don’t really need to be all that careful. You’ll feel like they will probably have a cure for deafness by the time you will notice any symptoms of hearing loss.
That’s not a good idea. Without question, it’s better to safeguard your hearing while you can. Scientists are making some incredible strides on the subject of treating hearing loss though, and that includes some possible cures in the future.
It’s no fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just something that occurs. It doesn’t indicate you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being penalized. It’s just part of getting older. But there are some definite disadvantages to dealing with hearing loss. Your social life, general health, and mental health can be substantially impacted by hearing loss, not to mention your inability to hear what’s happening around you. Neglected hearing loss can even result in an increased risk of depression and dementia. There’s plenty of evidence to link untreated hearing loss to problems like social isolation.
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 pertain 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.
If you come see us, we can help slow down the development of your hearing loss and protect your current levels of hearing. Hearing aids are frequently the form of treatment that will be most ideal for most types of hearing loss. So there are treatments for most individuals but there’s no cure. And your quality of life will be immensely improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main types
There are differences in types of hearing loss. Hearing loss comes in two principal classes. One can be cured, the other can be treated. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets obstructed by something, you get this type of hearing loss. It may be due to an accumulation of earwax. Maybe, an ear infection is causing inflammation. When something is obstructing your ear canals, whatever it might be, sound waves won’t be capable of getting to your inner ear. This form of hearing loss can certainly be cured, normally by eliminating the blockage (or treating whatever is causing the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss is irreversible. Vibrations in the air are picked up by fragile hairs in your ears known as stereocilia. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. Regrettably, these hairs are compromised as you go through life, usually by exceedingly loud sounds. And once they are damaged, the hairs no longer function. This decreases your ability to hear. 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 purpose 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 letting you hear conversations is the objective.
So, how do you deal with this type of hearing loss? Prevalent treatments include the following.
Most likely, the single most common way of treating hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be individually tuned to your particular hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. Wearing a hearing aid will allow you to better comprehend conversations and interact with others over the course of your daily life. Many of the symptoms of social isolation can be prevented by using hearing aids (and, as a result, lower your risk of dementia and depression).
Having your own set of hearing aids is incredibly common, and there are lots of styles to choose from. You’ll have to talk to us about which is ideal for you and your particular level of hearing loss.
Often, it will be necessary to bypass the ears entirely if hearing loss is total. That’s what a cochlear implant does. Surgery is used to put this device in the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has translated 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 complete hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So even if your hearing has completely gone, there are still treatment options available.
Scientists are continuously working on new ways to treat hearing loss.
In the past, curing hearing loss has been impossible, but that’s precisely what new advances are aimed at. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: Your own stem cells are used in this kind of therapy. The idea is that these stem cells can then develop into new stereocilia (those delicate hairs in your ears). Studies with animals (like rats and mice) have shown some promise, but some kind of prescription stem cell gene therapy still seems going to be a while.
- 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 called progenitor cells. New therapies aim to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once again create new stereocilia. Encouraging outcomes for these novel therapies have come from early human trials. Most people noticed a significant improvement 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: Some researchers have discovered a protein that’s essential to growing new stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a better idea of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by recognizing this protein. Again, this is one of those treatments that’s more in the “drawing board” stage than the “widely available” stage.
Don’t wait to have your hearing loss treated
Some of these innovations are promising. But it’s worthwhile to stress that none of them are available yet. So it’s not a good plan to wait to get treatment for your loss of hearing. Protect your hearing now.
Don’t try to wait for that miracle cure, call us today to schedule a hearing exam.