Every day scientists are discovering new cures. That can be a good or bad thing. For example, you might look at encouraging new research in the area of curing hearing loss and you figure you don’t really have to be all that careful. By the time you begin exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have discovered the cure for deafness.
That wouldn’t be wise. Without question, it’s better to protect your hearing while you can. Scientists are making some amazing advances when it comes to treating hearing loss though, and that includes some possible cures in the future.
It isn’t any fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just something that occurs. It doesn’t mean you’re a negative person or you did something wrong or you’re being punished. It just… is. But developing hearing loss has some major disadvantages. Your social life, overall wellness, and mental health can be significantly affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s taking place 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 untreated hearing loss.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic condition. This means that there’s no cure and, as time passes, it’ll grow worse. That’s not true for every type of hearing loss, but more on that in a bit. Even though there is no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated.
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 commonly the optimum treatment for most forms of hearing loss. So there are treatments for most people but there’s no cure. And your quality of life will be immensely improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main kinds
There are differences in kinds of hearing loss. There are two main categories of hearing loss. 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 form of hearing loss. It might be because of an accumulation of earwax. Maybe, an ear infection is causing inflammation. Whatever the cause, there’s something physically stopping sound waves from moving up 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 type of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are sensed by tiny hairs in your ears known as stereocilia. These vibrations can be interpreted as sound by your brain. As you go through life, these hairs become damaged, by loud noises usually. And once they’re damaged, the hairs don’t 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 make 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 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 allowing you to hear conversations is the objective.
So, how do you manage this type of hearing loss? Prevalent treatments include the following.
Hearing aids are probably the single most prevalent means of managing hearing loss. Hearing aids can be individually tuned to your particular hearing needs, so they’re especially useful. During 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 isolation (and, as a result, reduced your risk of dementia and depression).
Getting your own set of hearing aids is incredibly common, and there are lots of styles to pick from. In order to determine which model is suited to your taste and level of hearing loss, you’ll have to come see us for a consultation.
Often, it will be necessary to bypass the ears entirely if hearing loss is complete. That’s what a cochlear implant does. 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 known as deafness. So there will still be treatment solutions even if you have totally 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. Here are some of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: These therapies use 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). 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. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells become inactive, and they are then referred to as progenitor cells. New treatments seek to reactivate these progenitor cells, encouraging them to once again grow new stereocilia. Encouraging outcomes for these novel therapies have come from early human trials. There was a significant improvement, for most patients, in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. How long it will be before these therapies are widely available, however, is unknown.
- GFI1 Protein: Some scientists have discovered a protein that’s critical to growing new stereocilia. It’s hoped that by identifying this protein, scientists will get a better concept of how to get those stereocilia to start growing back. Again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” phase than the “widely available” phase.
Live in the moment – treat your hearing loss now
Some of these innovations are encouraging. But let’s not forget that none of them are available to the public at this point. Which means that it’s smart to live in the here and now. Be proactive about safeguarding your hearing.
Don’t try and wait for that miracle cure, call us as soon as you can to schedule a hearing exam.