New cures are regularly being discovered. That might be a positive or a negative. You may think that you don’t really need to be all that vigilant about your hearing because you saw some promising research about prospective future cures for deafness. You’ll feel like they will most likely have a cure for deafness by the time you will exhibit any symptoms of hearing loss.
That’s not a good idea. Obviously, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the smarter choice. There is some exciting research emerging which is revealing some awesome advances toward effectively treating hearing loss.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is simply something that happens. It’s not inevitably because of something you did wrong. It’s just part of getting older. But there are some distinct disadvantages to dealing with hearing loss. Your social life, general wellness, and mental health can be considerably affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s taking place around you. You will even raise your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. Lots of evidence exists that reveals a connection between social isolation and untreated hearing loss.
Usually, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative problem. This means that there isn’t any cure and, over time, it’ll grow worse. That’s not accurate for every type of hearing loss, but more on that in a bit. But “no cure” isn’t the same as “no treatment”.
We can help you maintain your levels of hearing and slow down the development of hearing loss. Hearing aids are usually the form of treatment that will be most ideal for most kinds of hearing loss. So there are treatments for most people but there’s no cure. And your quality of life will be immensely improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main types
Not all hearing loss is the same. There are two primary categories 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 occurs because something gets in the way and obstructs your ear canal. Perhaps it’s a clump of earwax (a little gross, but it happens). Maybe it’s inflammation from an ear infection. When something is obstructing your ear canals, whatever it may be, sound waves won’t be able to get to your inner ear. This type of hearing loss can indeed be cured, usually by eliminating the obstruction (or treating whatever is causing the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more permanent form of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are picked up by delicate hairs in your ears called stereocilia. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. Regrettably, these hairs are destroyed as you go through life, typically by overly loud sounds. And these hairs stop working after they get damaged. 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 mend them. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Sensorineural hearing loss treatments
Just because sensorineural hearing loss is permanent doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. The purpose of any such treatment is to let you hear as much as you can given your hearing loss. The objective is to help you hear discussions, improve your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, how do you deal with this type of hearing loss? Common treatments include the following.
Most likely, the one most prevalent way of managing hearing loss is hearing aids. They’re especially useful because hearing aids can be specially tuned for your distinct hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid will let you better understand conversations and communicate with others over the course of your day to day life. Hearing aids can even forestall many symptoms of social solitude (and the risk of depression and dementia as a result).
Getting your own pair of hearing aids is incredibly common, and there are many styles to choose from. You’ll need to speak with us about which is ideal for you and your specific 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. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. The device picks up on sounds and converts those sounds into electrical energy, which is then transmitted directly to your cochlear nerve. This enables your brain to translate those signals into sounds.
When a person has a condition called deafness, or total hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So even if your hearing has gone away completely, there are still treatment solutions available.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are continuously being researched by scientists.
These new advances are frequently geared towards “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously been impossible. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: These therapies utilize stem cells from your own body. The concept is that these stem cells can then transform into new stereocilia (those tiny hairs inside of your ears). Studies with animals (like rats and mice) have shown some promise, but some kind of prescription stem cell gene therapy is probably still a long way off.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear originate the generation of stereocilia. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells become inactive, and they are then called progenitor cells. New therapies aim to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once again create new stereocilia. Encouraging results for these new therapies have come from early human trials. There was a substantial improvement, for most people, 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 discovered by scientists that is essential for the regrowth of stereocilia. It’s hoped that by discovering this protein, scientists will get a better idea of how to get those stereocilia to start growing back. Again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” stage than the “widely available” stage.
Don’t wait to get your hearing loss treated
There’s a great deal of promise in these innovations. But let’s remember that none of them are available to the public right now. So it’s not a good idea to wait to get treatment for your hearing loss. Protect your hearing now.
A miracle cure isn’t likely to be coming soon, so if you’re struggling with hearing loss, give us a call to schedule your hearing test.