New cures are regularly being found. That can be a good or bad thing. You might figure that you don’t really need to be all that cautious about your hearing because you saw some encouraging research about potential future cures for deafness. You’ll feel like they will likely have a cure for deafness by the time you will notice any symptoms of hearing loss.
That would be unwise. Without question, it’s better to safeguard your hearing while you have it. Scientists are making some amazing strides on the subject of treating hearing loss though, including some potential cures in the future.
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 just… is. But developing hearing loss has some serious disadvantages. Your social life, general wellness, and mental health can be considerably impacted by hearing loss, not to mention your inability to hear what’s happening around you. Untreated hearing loss can even lead to an increased risk of depression and dementia. Lots of research exists that reveals a connection between social isolation and neglected hearing loss.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic situation. This means that there’s no cure and, as time passes, it’ll get worse. This doesn’t pertain to every form of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. But “no cure” isn’t the same as “no treatment”.
We can help you preserve your levels of hearing and slow the progression of hearing loss. Hearing aids are usually 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 the same. 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 form of hearing loss. It might be caused by a buildup of earwax. Maybe it’s inflammation from an ear infection. When something is obstructing your ear canals, whatever it might be, sound waves won’t be capable of getting to your inner ear. This form of hearing loss can certainly be cured, usually by removing the obstruction (or treating whatever is creating the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more permanent form 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. Unfortunately, these hairs are destroyed as you go through life, typically by exceedingly loud sounds. And once they are damaged, the hairs don’t function. And when this happens your ability to hear becomes diminished. There’s currently no way to repair these hairs, and your body doesn’t make new ones naturally. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Treatments for sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss may be irreversible but that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. The goal of any such treatment is to let you hear as much as you can given your hearing loss. The goal is to help you hear discussions, enhance your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, how do you treat this type of hearing loss? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Most likely, the one most common way of treating hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be specially calibrated to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially useful. Wearing a hearing aid will let you better understand conversations and interact with others during your day to day life. Many of the symptoms of social solitude can be prevented by using hearing aids (and, as a result, lower your danger of dementia and depression).
There are many different styles of hearing aid to choose from and they have become a lot more common. You’ll need to speak with us about which is ideal for you and your specific level of hearing loss.
Often, it will be necessary to bypass the ears entirely if hearing loss is total. That’s what a cochlear implant does. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has translated into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. This allows your brain to translate those signals into sounds.
Cochlear implants are usually used when hearing loss is total, a condition known as deafness. So even if your hearing has gone away completely, there are still treatment options available.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are always being researched by scientists.
These new advances are often geared towards “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously proven impossible. Here are a number of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: These therapies use stem cells from your own body. The concept is that these stem cells can then turn into new stereocilia (those tiny hairs in your ears). Studies with mammals (like rats and mice) have shown some promise, but some form of prescription stem cell gene therapy is probably still going to be a while.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear originate the production of stereocilia. The stem cells become inactive after they create stereocilia and are then referred to as progenitor cells. These new therapies are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by waking up the progenitor cells. Encouraging outcomes for these novel therapies have come from early human trials. Most patients noticed a substantial improvement in their ability to hear and understand speech. How long it will be before these therapies are widely available, however, is unknown.
- GFI1 Protein: Some researchers have identified a protein that’s critical to growing new stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a clearer concept of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by identifying this protein. This treatment is really still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Don’t wait to get your hearing loss treated
There’s a lot of promise in these innovations. But it’s important to stress that none of them are ready yet. Which means that it’s a good idea to live in the here and now. Protect your hearing now.
Don’t try to wait for that miracle cure, call us as soon as you can to schedule a hearing exam.