New cures are regularly being found. That may be a positive or a negative. You may decide that you don’t really have to be all that careful about your hearing because you read some encouraging research about possible future cures for deafness. By the time you start showing symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have discovered the cure for deafness.
That’s not a smart idea. Clearly, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the better choice. There is some exciting research emerging which is revealing some awesome strides toward successfully treating hearing loss.
It’s no fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just something that occurs. It doesn’t suggest you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being punished. It just… is. But there are some distinct disadvantages to experiencing hearing loss. Your social life, general wellness, and mental health can be significantly affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s going on around you. Neglected hearing loss can even result in a greater risk of depression and dementia. There’s lots of evidence to link neglected hearing loss to problems like social isolation.
Usually, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative condition. This means that there isn’t any cure and, over time, it’ll get worse. This doesn’t pertain to every kind 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 treated.
If you come see us, we can help slow the development of your hearing loss and protect your current levels of hearing. Hearing aids are usually the form of treatment that will be most ideal for most types of hearing loss. So, for most individuals, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And those treatments can do a world of good when it comes to enhancing your quality of life.
Hearing loss comes in two main forms
There are differences in forms of hearing loss. Hearing loss comes in two main classes. One can be cured, the other can be managed. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss occurs because something gets in the way and blocks your ear canal. It might be caused by an accumulation of earwax. Maybe, an ear infection is causing swelling. When something is obstructing your ear canals, whatever it may be, sound waves won’t be capable of getting to your inner ear. This kind of hearing loss will be cured when the cause of the obstruction is eliminated.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This form of hearing loss is more permanent. Vibrations in the air are sensed by fragile hairs in your ears known as stereocilia. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. As you go through life, these hairs become damaged, by loud sound usually. And once they’re damaged, the hairs don’t function. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes impaired. Your body doesn’t naturally regrow these hairs and we presently have no way to heal 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 you can given your hearing loss. The objective is to help you hear discussions, increase your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, what are these treatment methods? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Hearing aids are likely the single most prevalent way of managing hearing loss. They’re particularly useful because hearing aids can be specifically tuned for your distinct hearing loss. Using a hearing aid will allow you to better understand conversations and interact with others during your daily life. Many of the symptoms of social isolation can be prevented by wearing hearing aids (and the risk of depression and dementia as a result).
Having your own pair of hearing aids is extremely common, and there are many styles to pick from. You’ll have to speak with us about which is best for you and your specific level of hearing loss.
Often, it will be necessary to bypass the ears altogether 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. This enables your brain to convert those signals into sounds.
When a person has a condition known as deafness, or total hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So even if your hearing has gone away completely, there are still treatment options available.
Scientists are continuously working on new ways to treat hearing loss.
These new advances are frequently geared towards “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously proven impossible. Here are a number of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: These therapies make use of stem cells from your own body. The idea is that these stem cells can then turn into new stereocilia (those delicate hairs inside of your ears). It’s not likely that we will see 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 production of stereocilia. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells become inactive, and they are then called progenitor cells. These new therapies are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by waking up the progenitor cells. This specific novel therapy has been used in humans, and the outcomes seem encouraging. Most people noticed a significant improvement in their ability to hear and understand speech. How long before these treatments are widely available, however, is unknown.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been discovered by researchers that is crucial for the regrowth of stereocilia. It’s hoped that by finding this protein, scientists will get a better idea of how to get those stereocilia to start growing back. This treatment is very much still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Live in the moment – address 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. So it’s not a good plan to wait to get treatment for your hearing loss. Protect your hearing today.
A miracle cure likely isn’t coming soon, so if you’re coping with hearing loss, give us a call to schedule your hearing exam.