New cures are constantly being found. That can be a good or bad thing. For example, you may look at promising new research in the area of curing hearing loss and you decide you don’t really have to be all that careful. By the time you begin showing symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have found the cure for deafness.
That’s not a smart idea. Obviously, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the wiser choice. There is some exciting research emerging which is revealing some amazing strides toward effectively treating hearing loss.
It’s no fun to lose your hearing
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 clear disadvantages to experiencing hearing loss. Not only do you hear less, but the condition can impact your social life, your mental health, and your overall health. You will even raise your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. There’s lots of evidence to connect neglected hearing loss to issues such as social isolation.
In general, hearing loss is a chronic and degenerative problem. This means that there isn’t any cure and, over time, it’ll grow worse. This doesn’t pertain to every type 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.
We can help you protect your levels of hearing and slow down the development of hearing loss. Hearing aids are frequently the form of treatment that will be most appropriate for most kinds of hearing loss. So, for most individuals, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And those treatments can do a lot of good when it comes to enhancing your quality of life.
Two kinds of hearing loss
There are differences in kinds of hearing loss. Hearing loss comes in two principal categories. One can be cured, the other can be treated. 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. Possibly it’s a bunch of earwax (a little gross, but it happens). Maybe it’s swelling caused by 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 form of hearing loss will be cured when the cause of the obstruction is removed.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more permanent form of hearing loss. There are tiny hairs in your ear (called stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. Regrettably, these hairs are damaged as you go through life, typically by exceedingly loud sounds. 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 currently 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 managed. Given your loss of hearing, allowing you to hear as much as possible is the purpose of treatment. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, enhancing your situational awareness, and allowing you to hear conversations is the goal.
So, what are these treatment strategies? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Most likely, the single most common way of treating hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be individually calibrated to your particular hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. Using a hearing aid will allow you to better comprehend conversations and interact with others during your day to day life. Hearing aids can even forestall many symptoms of social isolation (and the danger of depression and dementia as a result).
There are many different styles of hearing aid to pick from and they have become much more common. In order to figure out which model is suited to your taste and level of hearing loss, you’ll need to come see us for a consultation.
When hearing loss is complete, it sometimes makes sense to bypass the ears altogether. A cochlear implant does exactly that. Surgery is used to put this device into the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has translated into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. Your brain then interprets those signals as sound.
Cochlear implants are usually used when hearing loss is total, a condition known as deafness. 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 been impossible, but that’s precisely what new advances are aimed at. Here are some of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: Your own stem cells are used in this type of therapy. The concept is that new stereocilia can be produced by these stem cells (those tiny hairs in your ears). Studies with mammals (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 produced by your body’s stem cells. The stem cells become inactive after they develop stereocilia and are then known as progenitor cells. New therapies aim to reactivate these progenitor cells, encouraging them to once more create new stereocilia. Encouraging results for these novel therapies have come from early human trials. There was a significant improvement, for most people, in their ability to hear and understand speech. How long it will be before these treatments are widely available, however, isn’t known.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been discovered by researchers that is essential for the regrowth of stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a clearer idea of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by identifying this protein. Again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” stage than the “widely available” phase.
Don’t wait to have your hearing loss treated
There’s a lot of promise in these innovations. But let’s remember that none of them are available to the public right now. So it’s a bad idea to wait to get treatment for your hearing loss. Protect your hearing today.
A miracle cure isn’t likely to be coming soon, so if you’re coping with hearing loss, give us a call to schedule your hearing assessment.