New cures are regularly being found. That could be a positive or a negative. You may decide that you don’t really need to be all that careful about your hearing because you saw some encouraging research about potential future cures for deafness. You’ll feel like they will most likely have a cure for deafness by the time you will notice any symptoms of hearing loss.
That wouldn’t be wise. Clearly, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the better choice. There is some amazing research coming out which is revealing some amazing strides toward effectively treating hearing loss.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is simply something that takes place. It doesn’t mean you’re a negative person or you did something wrong or you’re being penalized. It just… is. But there are some clear drawbacks to dealing with hearing loss. Not only do you hear less, but the condition can impact your social life, your mental health, and your long term wellness. You will even increase your risk of developing dementia and depression with untreated hearing loss. Lots of evidence exists that reveals a link between social isolation and untreated hearing loss.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic situation. So, over time, it will keep getting worse and there is no cure. That’s not true for every form of hearing loss, but more on that below. But “no cure” is not the same as “no treatment”.
We can help you protect your levels of hearing and slow down the progression of hearing loss. Frequently, this means using a hearing aid, which is usually the optimal treatment for most forms 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.
Two kinds of hearing loss
Not all hearing loss is identical. Hearing loss comes in two principal classes. One can be cured, the other can be managed. 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 may be because of a buildup of earwax. Maybe it’s swelling from 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 kind of hearing loss will be cured when the source of the obstruction is eliminated.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This form of hearing loss is irreversible. Vibrations in the air are picked up by tiny hairs in your ears called stereocilia. These vibrations can be translated to sound by your brain. Regrettably, these hairs are compromised as you go through life, usually by overly loud noises. And once they’re damaged, the hairs no longer function. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes diminished. Your body won’t naturally regrow these hairs and we presently 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. The goal of any such treatment is to let you hear as much as you can given your hearing loss. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, improving your situational awareness, and letting you hear conversations is the objective.
So, what are these treatment methods? Here are some common treatments.
Hearing aids are likely the single most prevalent way of managing hearing loss. Hearing aids can be individually tuned to your particular hearing needs, so they’re especially useful. Using a hearing aid will let you better comprehend conversations and communicate with others during your day to day life. Many of the symptoms of social isolation can be staved off by wearing hearing aids (and, as a result, reduced your risk of dementia and depression).
Having 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 altogether. That’s what a cochlear implant does. Surgery is used to put this device in the ear. The device picks up on sounds and translates those sounds into electrical energy, which is then transferred directly to your cochlear nerve. This allows your brain to convert those signals into sounds.
When a person has a condition known as deafness, or complete hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. 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.
In the past, curing hearing loss has proven impossible, but that’s precisely what new advances are geared towards. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: These treatments make use of stem cells from your own body. The idea is that new stereocilia can be generated by these stem cells (those tiny hairs inside of your ears). It’s not likely that we will have prescription gene therapy for some time, but for now, studies with animals are showing promise.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear originate the production of stereocilia. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells go dormant, and they are then referred to as progenitor cells. New therapies seek to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once more create new stereocilia. This particular novel therapy has been used in humans, and the outcomes 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 critical to growing new stereocilia. Scientists 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 treatments that’s more in the “drawing board” stage than the “widely available” phase.
Don’t wait to get your hearing loss treated
Lots of these innovations are encouraging. But let’s remember that none of them are available to the public right now. Which means that it’s a good idea to live in the here and now. Protect your hearing today.
Don’t try to wait for that miracle cure, call us now to schedule a hearing exam.