Every day scientists are finding new cures. That might be a positive or a negative. For instance, 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 cautious. You’ll feel like they will likely have a cure for deafness by the time you will exhibit any symptoms of hearing loss.
That would be unwise. Clearly, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still in good shape would be the better choice. There is some amazing research emerging which is revealing some amazing strides toward effectively treating hearing loss.
It’s no fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is simply something that takes place. It’s not inevitably because of something you did wrong. It just… is. But there are some clear disadvantages to dealing with hearing loss. Your social life, overall wellness, and mental health can be significantly affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s going on around you. You will even increase your risk of developing dementia and depression with untreated hearing loss. Lots of research exists that shows a link between social isolation and untreated hearing loss.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic situation. So, as time passes, it will keep getting worse and there is no cure. That’s not accurate for every type of hearing loss, but more on that in a bit. But “no cure” is not the same as “no treatment”.
We can help you preserve your levels of hearing and slow down the development of hearing loss. Frequently, this means using a hearing aid, which is commonly the optimum treatment for most types of hearing loss. So, for most individuals, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And your quality of life will be greatly improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main forms
There are differences in forms of hearing loss. There are two main classes of hearing loss. One can be cured, the other can be treated. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss occurs because something gets in the way and obstructs your ear canal. Perhaps 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 able to get to your inner ear. This kind of hearing loss will be cured when the source of the obstruction is eliminated.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more permanent type of hearing loss. There are tiny hairs in your ear (known as stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. These vibrations can be interpreted as sound by your brain. Unfortunately, these hairs are destroyed as you go through life, typically by exceedingly loud noises. And once they’re damaged, the hairs don’t function. This decreases your ability to hear. There’s presently no way to heal these hairs, and your body doesn’t make new ones naturally. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Treatments for sensorineural hearing loss
Just because sensorineural hearing loss is permanent 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. The goal is to help you hear discussions, increase 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 managing hearing loss is hearing aids. They’re especially useful because hearing aids can be specially tuned for your distinct hearing loss. Over the course of your day, a hearing aid will help you make out conversations and interact with people better. Many of the symptoms of social solitude can be staved off by using hearing aids (and the danger of depression and dementia as a result).
There are lots of different styles of hearing aid to pick from and they have become a lot more common. You’ll need to talk to us about which is best for you and your particular degree of hearing loss.
When hearing loss is total, it sometimes makes sense to bypass the ears entirely. That’s what a cochlear implant does. 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. This allows your brain to convert those signals into sounds.
Cochlear implants are typically used when hearing loss is total, a condition known as deafness. So there will still be treatment solutions even if you have completely lost your hearing.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are always being researched by scientists.
These new advances are frequently aimed at “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously been impossible. 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 generated by these stem cells (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 still seems going to be a while.
- 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 referred to as progenitor cells. These new therapies are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by waking up the progenitor cells. This particular novel therapy has been used in humans, and the results seem encouraging. Most people noticed a significant improvement in their ability to hear and understand speech. It isn’t really known how long it will be before these therapies will be widely available.
- GFI1 Protein: Some researchers have discovered a protein that’s essential to growing new stereocilia. It’s hoped that by finding this protein, researchers will get a better idea of how to get those stereocilia to start growing back. Once again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” stage than the “widely available” phase.
Don’t wait to get your hearing loss treated
Some of these innovations are encouraging. But let’s not forget that none of them are available to the public right now. Which means that it’s smart to live in the here and now. Protect your hearing now.
A miracle cure likely isn’t coming soon, so if you’re coping with hearing loss, call us today to schedule your hearing assessment.