Every day scientists are finding new cures. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. For example, you might look at encouraging new research in the area of curing hearing loss and you decide you don’t really need to be all that cautious. You’ll feel like they will likely have a cure for deafness by the time you will exhibit any symptoms of hearing loss.
That wouldn’t be wise. Obviously, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the better choice. There is some exciting research coming out which is revealing some awesome 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 necessarily because of something you did wrong. It’s just part of the aging process. But developing hearing loss has some serious disadvantages. Not only do you hear less, but the disorder can impact your social life, your mental health, and your overall health. You will even increase your risk of developing dementia and depression with untreated hearing loss. Lots of research exists that reveals a link between social isolation and untreated hearing loss.
Usually, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative condition. So, as time passes, it will continue to get worse and there is no cure. This doesn’t apply to every form of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. Even though there’s no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed.
We can help you protect your levels of hearing and slow down the progression of hearing loss. Hearing aids are frequently the form of treatment that will be most ideal for most kinds of hearing loss. So, for most people, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And your quality of life will be greatly improved by these treatments.
Two types of hearing loss
Not all hearing loss is identical. Hearing loss comes in two primary 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. It might be due to an accumulation of earwax. Possibly, an ear infection is causing inflammation. When something is blocking your ear canals, whatever it might be, sound waves won’t be able to get to your inner ear. This type of hearing loss can indeed be cured, typically by removing the blockage (or treating whatever is causing the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more permanent form of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are sensed by fragile hairs in your ears called stereocilia. Your brain is capable of interpreting these vibrations as sound. Unfortunately, these hairs are destroyed as you go through life, usually by exceedingly loud sounds. And once they’re damaged, the hairs don’t function. And when this happens your ability to hear becomes impaired. Your body won’t naturally regrow these hairs and we currently have no way to mend them. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Treatments for sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss may be permanent but that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. The purpose of any such treatment is to allow you to hear as much as you can 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.
Hearing aids are probably the single most common means of treating hearing loss. Hearing aids can be specially tuned to your particular hearing needs, so they’re especially useful. Wearing a hearing aid will let you better understand conversations and interact with others during your daily life. Hearing aids can even delay many symptoms of social isolation (and the risk of depression and dementia as a result).
There are many different styles of hearing aid to pick from and they have become much more common. 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.
When hearing loss is total, it often makes sense to bypass the ears entirely. A cochlear implant does exactly that. Surgery is performed to insert this device into the ear. This device directly transfers sound, which it has translated into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. This allows your brain to convert those signals into sounds.
When a person has a condition known as deafness, or complete 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.
In the past, curing hearing loss has proven impossible, but that’s exactly what new advances are geared towards. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: These treatments utilize stem cells from your own body. The concept is that new stereocilia can be produced by these stem cells (those delicate hairs in your ears). Studies with mammals (like rats and mice) have shown some promise, but some form of prescription stem cell gene therapy still seems going to be a while.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear originate the generation of stereocilia. 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 again grow new stereocilia. This specific novel therapy has been used in humans, and the outcomes seem encouraging. There was a significant improvement, for most patients, in their ability to hear and understand speech. How long it will be before these therapies are widely available, however, isn’t known.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been discovered by scientists that is crucial for the regrowth of stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a clearer concept of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by recognizing this protein. This treatment is really 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 it’s worthwhile to stress that none of them are available yet. So it’s not a good idea to wait to get treatment for your loss of hearing. Be proactive about protecting your hearing.
A miracle cure likely isn’t coming soon, so if you’re coping with hearing loss, call us today to schedule your hearing exam.