Every day scientists are finding new cures. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. For example, you might look at promising new research in the arena of curing hearing loss and you decide you don’t really have to be all that cautious. By the time you start showing symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have discovered the cure for deafness.
That would be unwise. Clearly, protecting 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 strides toward effectively treating hearing loss.
It isn’t any fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just a fact of life. It’s not inevitably because of something you did wrong. It just… is. But there are some clear disadvantages to experiencing hearing loss. Not only do you hear less, but the disorder can affect your social life, your mental health, and your long term wellness. You will even increase your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. There’s plenty of evidence to link untreated hearing loss to problems like social isolation.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic situation. This means that there isn’t any cure and, over time, it’ll grow worse. That’s not true for every form of hearing loss, but more on that below. But “no cure” is not the same as “no treatment”.
If you come see us, we can help slow the development of your hearing loss and preserve your current levels of hearing. Hearing aids are usually the form of treatment that will be most appropriate 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 greatly improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main forms
Not all hearing loss is the same. Hearing loss comes in two principal classes. You can treat one and the other can be cured. Here’s what you need to know:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets blocked by something, you get this kind of hearing loss. Possibly it’s a bunch of earwax (a bit gross, but it happens). Possibly, an ear infection is causing swelling. When something is blocking your ear canals, whatever it may be, sound waves won’t be capable of getting to your inner ear. This form of hearing loss will be cured when the cause of the obstruction is removed.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more irreversible form of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are sensed by tiny hairs in your ears known as stereocilia. These vibrations can be translated to sound by your brain. Regrettably, these hairs are compromised as you go through life, typically by exceedingly loud noises. And these hairs stop functioning after they become damaged. This reduces your ability to hear. Your body won’t naturally regrow these hairs and we currently have no way to heal them. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Sensorineural hearing loss treatments
Sensorineural hearing loss may be permanent but that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. Given your loss of hearing, letting you hear as much as possible is the purpose of treatment. The goal is to help you hear conversations, enhance your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, how do you treat this type of hearing loss? Common treatments include the following.
Most likely, the single most prevalent way of managing hearing loss is hearing aids. They’re particularly beneficial because hearing aids can be specifically calibrated for your unique hearing loss. Using a hearing aid will let you better comprehend conversations and interact with others over the course of your day to day life. Hearing aids can even delay many symptoms of social solitude (and the danger of depression and dementia as a result).
Getting your own pair of hearing aids is incredibly common, and there are many styles to pick from. In order to figure out which model is suited to your taste and degree of hearing loss, you’ll need to come see us for a consultation.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to bypass the ears entirely if hearing loss is total. That’s what a cochlear implant does. Surgery is performed to insert this device into the ear. The device picks up on sounds and converts those sounds into electrical energy, which is then transferred straight to your cochlear nerve. Your brain then interprets those signals as sound.
When a person has a condition called deafness, or complete hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So even if your hearing has gone away completely, there are still treatment solutions available.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are continuously being researched by scientists.
These new advances are often aimed at “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously proven impossible. Here are some of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: These treatments make use of stem cells from your own body. The concept 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 created by your body’s stem cells. The stem cells go dormant after they create stereocilia and are then referred to as progenitor cells. New treatments seek to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once more create new stereocilia. Encouraging results for these novel therapies have come from early human trials. Most patients noticed a substantial improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. It isn’t really known how long it will be before these treatments will be widely available.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been discovered by scientists that is essential for the regrowth of stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a clearer idea of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by identifying this protein. This treatment is very much still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Stay in the moment – treat your hearing loss now
There’s a great deal of promise in these innovations. But let’s not forget that none of them are available to the public at this time. So it’s a bad 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 as soon as you can to schedule a hearing exam.