New cures are regularly being discovered. That could 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 have to be all that cautious. By the time you start exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have found the cure for deafness.
That would be unwise. Obviously, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still in good shape would be the wiser choice. There is some amazing research emerging which is revealing some awesome strides toward effectively treating hearing loss.
It isn’t any fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just something that happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being penalized. It’s just part of getting older. But there are some distinct disadvantages to experiencing hearing loss. Your social life, general wellness, and mental health can be substantially affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s happening around you. You will even increase your risk of developing dementia and depression with untreated hearing loss. There’s lots of evidence to connect untreated hearing loss to problems like social isolation.
Usually, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative problem. This means that there’s no cure and, as time passes, it’ll grow worse. That’s not accurate for every type of hearing loss, but more on that in a bit. 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 down the development of your hearing loss and maintain your current levels of hearing. Hearing aids are often the form of treatment that will be most appropriate 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 immensely improved by these treatments.
Two forms of hearing loss
There are differences in types of hearing loss. There are two main categories of hearing loss. One can be cured, the other can be managed. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets blocked by something, you get this type of hearing loss. It may be due to an accumulation of earwax. Possibly, an ear infection is causing swelling. When something is obstructing your ear canals, whatever it might be, sound waves won’t be capable of getting to your inner ear. This type of hearing loss can indeed be cured, typically by removing the obstruction (or treating whatever is causing the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss is more permanent. There are tiny hairs in your ear (called stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. These vibrations can be interpreted as sound by your brain. Unfortunately, these hairs are damaged as you go through life, usually by overly loud noises. And these hairs stop functioning after they get damaged. This diminishes your ability to hear. There’s presently no way to repair these hairs, and your body doesn’t create new ones naturally. 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 managed. Given your loss of hearing, letting you hear as much as you can is the goal of treatment. The objective is to help you hear discussions, improve your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, how do you manage this type of hearing loss? Here are some common treatments.
Hearing aids are likely the single most common means of managing hearing loss. They’re particularly beneficial because hearing aids can be specifically calibrated for your unique hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid will let you better understand conversations and communicate with others over the course of your daily life. Many of the symptoms of social solitude can be staved off by using hearing aids (and the risk of depression and dementia as a result).
Getting your own set of hearing aids is extremely common, and there are lots of styles to choose from. You’ll have to talk to us about which is best for you and your specific degree of hearing loss.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to bypass the ears altogether if hearing loss is total. That’s what a cochlear implant does. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. The device picks up on sounds and translates those sounds into electrical energy, which is then transmitted directly to your cochlear nerve. Your brain then interprets those signals as sound.
When a person has a condition known as deafness, or complete hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So even if your hearing has completely gone, there are still treatment solutions available.
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. Here are a few of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: Your own stem cells are used in this type of therapy. The concept is that these stem cells can then transform into new stereocilia (those delicate hairs inside of your ears). It’s not likely that we will see prescription gene therapy for some time, but for now, studies with animals are showing promise.
- Progenitor cell activation: So the stereocilia in your ear are being created by your body’s stem cells. The stem cells become inactive after they create stereocilia and are then referred to as progenitor cells. New therapies aim to reactivate these progenitor cells, encouraging them to once more grow new stereocilia. This particular novel therapy has been tried in humans, and the results seem encouraging. Most patients noticed a substantial improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. How long before these therapies are widely available, however, is unknown.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been discovered by researchers that is essential for the regrowth of 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. This treatment is very much still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Live in the moment – deal with 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 point. Which means that it’s a good idea to live in the here and now. Protect your hearing today.
A miracle cure likely isn’t coming soon, so if you’re struggling with hearing loss, give us a call to schedule your hearing test.