New cures are constantly being found. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. You may think that you don’t really need to be all that cautious about your hearing because you read some encouraging research about potential future cures for deafness. You’ll feel like they will likely have a cure for deafness by the time you will notice any symptoms of hearing loss.
That wouldn’t be wise. Obviously, 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 awesome strides toward effectively treating hearing loss.
Hearing loss stinks
Hearing loss is simply something that occurs. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being punished. It’s just part of getting older. But there are some definite disadvantages to dealing with hearing loss. Not only do you hear less, but the disorder can impact your social life, your mental health, and your long term wellness. You will even raise your risk of developing dementia and depression with untreated hearing loss. Lots of research exists that reveals a link between social isolation and neglected hearing loss.
Usually, hearing loss is a chronic and degenerative condition. This means that there isn’t any cure and, as time passes, it’ll grow worse. That’s not true 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 the development of hearing loss. Often, this comes in the form of a hearing aid, which is commonly the optimum treatment for most forms of hearing loss. So, for most people, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And your quality of life will be immensely improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main kinds
There are differences in forms of hearing loss. There are two primary categories of hearing loss. One can be cured, the other can be managed. Here’s what you need to know:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets obstructed by something, you get this kind of hearing loss. It may be because of an accumulation of earwax. Perhaps it’s inflammation from an ear infection. Whatever it is, there’s something physically blocking sound waves from moving up to your inner ear. This kind of hearing loss will be cured when the cause of the obstruction is eliminated.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more irreversible form of hearing loss. There are tiny hairs in your ear (known as stereocilia) that pick up minute vibrations in the air. These vibrations can be translated to sound by your brain. As you go through life, these hairs get damaged, by loud sound usually. And these hairs stop functioning after they become damaged. This reduces your ability to hear. There’s currently no way to heal these hairs, and your body doesn’t create new ones naturally. 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. Given your loss of hearing, letting you hear as much as you can is the goal of treatment. The objective is to help you hear discussions, enhance your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, how do you deal with this type of hearing loss? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Hearing aids are probably the single most common method of treating hearing loss. Hearing aids can be individually tuned to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. Over the course of your day, a hearing aid will help you hear conversations and communicate with people better. Many of the symptoms of social solitude can be staved off by using hearing aids (and, as a result, reduced your danger of dementia and depression).
There are lots of different styles of hearing aid to pick from and they have become much more common. You’ll have to speak with us about which is best for you and your particular degree of hearing loss.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to bypass the ears entirely if hearing loss is complete. That’s what a cochlear implant does. Surgery is performed to put this device in the ear. This device directly transfers sound, which it has translated into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. Your brain then interprets those signals as sound.
Cochlear implants are typically used when hearing loss is total, a condition called deafness. So even if your hearing has completely gone, there are still treatment options available.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are always being researched by scientists.
These new advances are often aimed at “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 type of treatment. The idea is that these stem cells can then turn into new stereocilia (those delicate hairs inside of your ears). Studies with mammals (like rats and mice) have shown some promise, but some kind of prescription stem cell gene therapy still seems going to be a while.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear originate the creation of stereocilia. The stem cells become inactive after they create stereocilia and are then referred to as progenitor cells. New treatments 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. Most patients noticed a significant improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. How long it will be before these therapies are widely available, however, isn’t known.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been discovered by scientists that is critical for the regrowth of stereocilia. Researchers 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” phase than the “widely available” phase.
Don’t wait to have your hearing loss treated
Some 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 plan to wait to get treatment for your loss of hearing. Be proactive about safeguarding your hearing.
Don’t try to wait for that miracle cure, call us now to schedule a hearing exam.