Every day scientists are finding new cures. That may be a positive or a negative. You may think that you don’t really need to be very vigilant about your hearing because you read some promising research about possible future cures for deafness. By the time you begin exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have found the cure for deafness.
That’s not a good idea. Without question, it’s better to safeguard your hearing while you have it. There is some amazing research emerging which is revealing some amazing strides toward successfully treating hearing loss.
It isn’t any fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just something that occurs. It’s not necessarily because of something you did wrong. It’s just part of the aging process. But developing hearing loss has some extreme drawbacks. Not only can you hear less, but the disorder can affect 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. Lots of research exists that reveals a connection between social isolation and untreated hearing loss.
Usually, hearing loss is a chronic and degenerative problem. So, as time passes, it will keep getting worse and there is no cure. That’s not accurate for every kind of hearing loss, but more on that in a bit. But “no cure” is not the same as “no treatment”.
If you come see us, we can help slow the development of your hearing loss and protect your current levels of hearing. Often, this means using a hearing aid, which is commonly the optimal treatment for most types of hearing loss. So there are treatments for most individuals but there’s no cure. And your quality of life will be immensely improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main forms
There are differences in forms of hearing loss. There are two primary classes of hearing loss. You can treat one and the other can be cured. Here’s what you need to know:
- Conductive hearing loss: This form of hearing loss takes place because something gets in the way and blocks your ear canal. It might be caused by an accumulation of earwax. Maybe it’s inflammation from an ear infection. Whatever it is, there’s something physically stopping sound waves from moving up to your inner ear. This kind of hearing loss can indeed be cured, typically by eliminating the obstruction (or treating whatever is causing the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more irreversible form of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are sensed by delicate hairs in your ears called stereocilia. These vibrations can be interpreted as sound by your brain. Unfortunately, these hairs are destroyed as you go through life, typically by exceedingly loud sounds. And these hairs stop functioning after they become damaged. This reduces your ability to hear. Your body won’t naturally regrow these hairs and we presently have no way to mend them. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Sensorineural hearing loss treatments
Sensorineural hearing loss may be irreversible 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. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, improving your situational awareness, and allowing you to hear conversations is the objective.
So, how do you deal with this form of hearing loss? Common treatments include the following.
Most likely, the one most common way of managing hearing loss is hearing aids. They’re especially beneficial because hearing aids can be specifically adjusted for your distinct hearing loss. During the course of your day, a hearing aid will help you make out conversations and communicate with others better. Many of the symptoms of social isolation can be staved off by using hearing aids (and, as a result, lower your danger of dementia and depression).
Having your own pair of hearing aids is incredibly common, and there are many styles to pick from. You’ll have to speak with us about which is best for you and your particular degree of hearing loss.
When hearing loss is complete, it sometimes makes sense to bypass the ears entirely. A cochlear implant does just that. 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 total hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So even if your hearing has completely gone, there are still treatment solutions available.
Scientists are continuously working on new ways to treat hearing loss.
These new advances are often geared towards “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously been impossible. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: Your own stem cells are used in this kind of therapy. The concept is that new stereocilia can be produced by these stem cells (those little hairs in your ears). Studies with mammals (like rats and mice) have shown some promise, but some form 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. The stem cells go dormant after they create stereocilia and are then known as progenitor cells. New treatments aim to reactivate these progenitor cells, encouraging them to once again create new stereocilia. Encouraging results for these novel therapies have come from early human trials. Most patients noticed a significant improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. It isn’t really known how long it will be before these therapies will be widely available.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been identified by researchers that is crucial 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 begin to grow back. 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
Many of these innovations are encouraging. 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 loss of hearing. Protect your hearing today.
Don’t try and hold out for that miracle cure, call us now to schedule a hearing exam.