New cures are regularly being discovered. That might be a positive or a negative. For example, you may 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. By the time you start showing symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have found the cure for deafness.
That wouldn’t be wise. Obviously, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still in good shape would be the better choice. There is some amazing research emerging which is revealing some amazing advances toward effectively treating hearing loss.
Hearing loss is awful
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 definite drawbacks to experiencing hearing loss. Your social life, overall wellness, and mental health can be significantly affected by hearing loss, not to mention your inability to hear what’s taking place around you. You will even raise your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. There’s plenty of evidence to link untreated hearing loss to problems such as social isolation.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic situation. So, as time passes, it will continue to get worse and there is no cure. This doesn’t pertain to every kind of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. But “no cure” is not the same as “no treatment”.
We can help you preserve your levels of hearing and slow down the development of hearing loss. Often, this comes in the form of a hearing aid, which is commonly the ideal treatment for most types of hearing loss. So, for most people, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And your quality of life will be immensely improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main kinds
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 how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets obstructed by something, you get this form of hearing loss. It may be due to an accumulation of earwax. Perhaps it’s swelling from an ear infection. When something is blocking your ear canals, whatever it might be, sound waves won’t be capable of getting to your inner ear. This kind of hearing loss can certainly be cured, normally by removing the obstruction (or treating whatever is causing the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more irreversible type of hearing loss. There are fragile hairs in your ear (known as stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. Your brain is capable of interpreting these vibrations as sound. As you go through life, these hairs become damaged, by loud noises typically. And once they are damaged, the hairs don’t function. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes impaired. Your body won’t naturally regrow these hairs and we currently have no way to repair them. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Treatments for sensorineural hearing loss
Just because sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. The goal of any such treatment is to let you hear as much as possible given your hearing loss. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, improving your situational awareness, and letting you hear conversations is the goal.
So, how do you deal with this form of hearing loss? Prevalent treatments include the following.
Hearing aids are probably the single most common way of managing hearing loss. Hearing aids can be specially tuned to your particular hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. Over the course of your day, a hearing aid will help you understand conversations and interact with others better. 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 extremely common, and there are many styles to choose from. In order to identify 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. A cochlear implant does just that. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has converted into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. Your brain then interprets those signals as sound.
Cochlear implants are typically used when hearing loss is total, a condition called deafness. 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 geared towards “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously proven impossible. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: These therapies use stem cells from your own body. The idea is that new stereocilia can be produced by these stem cells (those tiny hairs in your ears). It isn’t likely that we will have prescription gene therapy for a while, but for now, studies with animals are promising.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear originate the creation of stereocilia. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells go dormant, and they are then known as progenitor cells. New treatments seek to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once again grow new stereocilia. Encouraging outcomes for these new therapies have come from early human trials. Most patients noticed a substantial improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. How long it will be before these treatments are widely available, however, is unknown.
- GFI1 Protein: Some scientists 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 identifying this protein. Once again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” phase than the “widely available” stage.
Don’t wait to have your hearing loss treated
There’s a lot of promise in these innovations. But it’s important to emphasize 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 hold out for that miracle cure, call us now to schedule a hearing exam.