New cures are regularly being found. That can be a good or bad thing. You may think that you don’t really have to be all that vigilant about your hearing because you saw some promising research about possible future cures for deafness. You’ll feel like they will probably have a cure for deafness by the time you will exhibit any symptoms of hearing loss.
That’s not a good idea. Obviously, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the better choice. There is some amazing research coming out which is revealing some amazing advances toward effectively treating hearing loss.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is simply something that occurs. It doesn’t indicate you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being punished. It’s just part of getting older. But developing hearing loss has some serious drawbacks. Your social life, overall wellness, and mental health can be significantly affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s happening around you. Neglected hearing loss can even lead to an increased risk of depression and dementia. Lots of research exists that shows a link between social isolation and neglected hearing loss.
Usually, hearing loss is a chronic and degenerative problem. So, as time passes, it will continue to get worse and there isn’t any cure. That’s not true for every kind of hearing loss, but more on that below. 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 down the progression of hearing loss. Often, this comes in the form of a hearing aid, which is often the optimum treatment for most types of hearing loss. So, for most individuals, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And those treatments can do a lot of good when it comes to enhancing your quality of life.
Two forms of hearing loss
Not all hearing loss is the same. Hearing loss comes in two principal categories. You can treat one and the other can be cured. Here’s what you need to know:
- Conductive hearing loss: This form of hearing loss happens because something gets in the way and blocks your ear canal. Maybe it’s a bunch of earwax (a bit gross, but it happens). Perhaps it’s inflammation caused by an ear infection. When something is blocking your ear canals, whatever it may be, sound waves won’t be able to get to your inner ear. This kind of hearing loss can certainly be cured, usually by removing the obstruction (or treating whatever is creating the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more irreversible form of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are picked up by delicate hairs in your ears called stereocilia. Your brain is capable of interpreting these vibrations as sound. As you go through life, these hairs become damaged, by loud sound usually. And once they’re damaged, the hairs no longer function. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes diminished. There’s presently no way to repair these hairs, and your body doesn’t create new ones naturally. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Sensorineural hearing loss treatments
Just because sensorineural hearing loss is permanent doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. The purpose of any such treatment is to allow you to hear as much as you can given your hearing loss. The goal is to help you hear conversations, improve your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, how do you manage this type of hearing loss? Here are some common treatments.
Hearing aids are likely the single most prevalent method of managing hearing loss. They’re particularly useful because hearing aids can be specifically calibrated for your distinct hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid will let you better comprehend conversations and communicate with others over the course of your daily life. Hearing aids can even forestall many symptoms of social isolation (and the danger of depression and dementia as a result).
Having your own set of hearing aids is extremely common, and there are lots of styles to pick from. In order to figure out which model is suited to your taste and level of hearing loss, you’ll have to come see us for a consultation.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to bypass the ears altogether if hearing loss is total. That’s what a cochlear implant does. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has translated into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. This enables your brain to convert those signals into sounds.
Cochlear implants are typically used when hearing loss is complete, a condition called deafness. So even if your hearing has completely gone, there are still treatment solutions available.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are continuously being researched by scientists.
These new advances are frequently geared towards “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously proven impossible. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: These therapies utilize stem cells from your own body. The concept is that new stereocilia can be generated by these stem cells (those little hairs in your ears). It’s not likely that we will have prescription gene therapy for some time, but for now, studies with animals are promising.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear originate the generation of stereocilia. The stem cells go dormant after they develop stereocilia and are then referred to as progenitor cells. These new treatments are encouraging the stereocilia to regrow by waking up the progenitor cells. Encouraging outcomes 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: 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. Once again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” phase than the “widely available” stage.
Stay in the moment – treat your hearing loss now
There’s a lot of promise in these innovations. But it’s worthwhile to stress that none of them are available yet. Which means that it’s a good idea to live in the here and now. Protect your hearing today.
Don’t try to wait for that miracle cure, call us as soon as you can to schedule a hearing exam.