Every day scientists are finding new cures. That could be a positive or a negative. You may decide that you really don’t have to be very cautious about your hearing because you read some promising research about possible future cures for deafness. You’ll feel like they will probably have a cure for deafness by the time you will notice any symptoms of hearing loss.
That’s not a smart idea. Obviously, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still in good shape would be the wiser choice. There is some exciting research emerging which is revealing some amazing strides toward effectively treating hearing loss.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is just something that takes place. It doesn’t mean you’re a negative person or you did something wrong or you’re being punished. It just… is. But developing hearing loss has some serious disadvantages. Your social life, overall health, and mental health can be considerably affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s happening around you. Untreated hearing loss can even result in a greater risk of depression and dementia. Lots of research exists that reveals a link between social isolation and untreated hearing loss.
In general, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative problem. So, over time, it will keep getting worse and there isn’t any cure. That’s not true for every form of hearing loss, but more on that in a bit. Even though there is no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed.
We can help you maintain your levels of hearing and slow the development of hearing loss. Frequently, this means using a hearing aid, which is often the optimum 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 types of hearing loss. Hearing loss comes in two primary categories. One can be cured, the other can be treated. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: This type of hearing loss takes place because something gets in the way and blocks your ear canal. It might be due to an accumulation of earwax. Maybe it’s inflammation caused by an ear infection. When something is obstructing your ear canals, whatever it might be, sound waves won’t be able to get to your inner ear. This form 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. Vibrations in the air are picked up by fragile hairs in your ears called stereocilia. These vibrations can be translated to sound by your brain. Unfortunately, these hairs are damaged as you go through life, typically by overly loud noises. And these hairs stop working after they become damaged. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes impaired. There’s presently no way to heal these hairs, and your body doesn’t grow new ones naturally. 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 treated. The goal of any such treatment is to let you hear as much as possible given your hearing loss. The goal is to help you hear discussions, enhance your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, what are these treatment strategies? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Most likely, the one most prevalent way of managing hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be individually calibrated to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. Wearing a hearing aid will let you better understand conversations and interact with others over the course of your daily life. Hearing aids can even forestall many symptoms of social solitude (and, as a result, lower your danger of dementia and depression).
Getting your own set of hearing aids is extremely common, and there are lots of styles to choose from. In order to figure out which model is suited to your taste and level of hearing loss, you’ll have to come see us for a consultation.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to bypass the ears altogether if hearing loss is total. A cochlear implant does just that. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has converted into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. Your brain then interprets those signals as sound.
Cochlear implants are normally used when hearing loss is complete, a condition known as deafness. So even if your hearing has gone away completely, there are still treatment options available.
Scientists are continuously working on new ways to treat hearing loss.
In the past, curing hearing loss has proven impossible, but that’s precisely what new advances are aimed at. Here are some of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: These treatments utilize stem cells from your own body. The idea is that new stereocilia can be created 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 is probably still going to be a while.
- Progenitor cell activation: So the stereocilia in your ear are being created by your body’s stem cells. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells become inactive, and they are then known as progenitor cells. These new treatments are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by waking up the progenitor cells. Encouraging outcomes for these new therapies have come from early human trials. Most patients noticed a substantial improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. It isn’t really known how long it will be before these treatments will be widely available.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been identified by researchers that is essential for the regrowth of stereocilia. It’s hoped that by discovering this protein, researchers will get a better concept of how to get those stereocilia to begin to grow back. This treatment is very much 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 let’s remember that none of them are available to the public at this time. So it’s a bad plan to wait to get treatment for your hearing loss. Be proactive about safeguarding your hearing.
Don’t try to hold out for that miracle cure, call us today to schedule a hearing exam.