Every day scientists are discovering new cures. That might be a positive or a negative. For example, you may look at encouraging new research in the arena of curing hearing loss and you figure you don’t really need to be all that careful. By the time you start showing symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have found the cure for deafness.
That’s not a good idea. Without a doubt, it’s better to safeguard your hearing while you have it. Scientists are making some amazing strides when it comes to treating hearing loss though, including some possible cures in the future.
Hearing loss stinks
Hearing loss is simply something that occurs. It’s not inevitably because of something you did wrong. It’s just part of getting older. But developing hearing loss has some extreme disadvantages. Not only do you hear less, but the condition can impact your social life, your mental health, and your overall wellness. You will even raise your risk of developing dementia and depression with untreated hearing loss. There’s lots of evidence to connect neglected hearing loss to problems such as social isolation.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic condition. This means that there isn’t any cure and, over time, it’ll get worse. This doesn’t pertain to every kind of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. But “no cure” isn’t the same as “no treatment”.
We can help you protect your levels of hearing and slow down the development of hearing loss. Frequently, this means using a hearing aid, which is usually 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 world of good when it comes to enhancing your quality of life.
Hearing loss comes in two main forms
There are differences in kinds of hearing loss. There are two primary categories of hearing loss. 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 type of hearing loss. It may be because of an accumulation of earwax. Maybe it’s inflammation caused by an ear infection. 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 obstruction (or treating whatever is creating the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss is irreversible. There are fragile hairs in your ear (called stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. Regrettably, these hairs are destroyed as you go through life, typically by exceedingly loud noises. And these hairs stop functioning after they become damaged. This diminishes your ability to hear. There’s presently no way to restore these hairs, and your body doesn’t grow new ones naturally. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Treatments for sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss may be irreversible but that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. Given your loss of hearing, letting you hear as much as you can is the purpose 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? Prevalent treatments include the following.
Hearing aids are likely the single most prevalent method of treating hearing loss. Hearing aids can be individually calibrated to your particular hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. Over the course of your day, a hearing aid will help you make out conversations and interact with people better. Hearing aids can even forestall many symptoms of social solitude (and the danger of depression and dementia as a result).
There are many different styles of hearing aid to choose from and they have become much more common. You’ll have to speak with us about which is ideal for you and your particular level of hearing loss.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to bypass the ears altogether if hearing loss is total. That’s what a cochlear implant does. Surgery is performed to put this device 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 enables your brain to translate those signals into sounds.
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 always being researched by scientists.
These new advances are frequently aimed at “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously proven impossible. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: These therapies make use of stem cells from your own body. The idea is that new stereocilia can be produced by these stem cells (those tiny hairs inside of your ears). Studies with animals (like rats and mice) have shown some promise, but some kind of prescription stem cell gene therapy still seems a long way off.
- 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 go dormant, and they are then called progenitor cells. These new therapies are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by reactivating the progenitor cells. This particular novel therapy has been tried in humans, and the results seem encouraging. Most people noticed a substantial improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. How long before these treatments are widely available, however, is unknown.
- GFI1 Protein: Some researchers have discovered a protein that’s essential to growing new stereocilia. It’s hoped that by identifying this protein, scientists will get a better idea of how to get those stereocilia to begin to grow back. This treatment is very much still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Live in the moment – address your hearing loss now
Some of these innovations are encouraging. But let’s not forget that none of them are available to the public right now. Which means that it’s a good idea to live in the here and now. Be proactive about protecting your hearing.
A miracle cure isn’t likely to be coming soon, so if you’re struggling with hearing loss, call us today to schedule your hearing test.