Every day scientists are discovering new cures. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. For example, you may look at encouraging new research in the arena of curing hearing loss and you decide you don’t really need 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. Obviously, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still in good shape would be the wiser choice. There is some amazing research emerging which is revealing some amazing strides toward successfully treating hearing loss.
Hearing loss stinks
Hearing loss is just something that takes place. It’s not necessarily because of something you did wrong. It’s just part of getting older. But there are some definite drawbacks to experiencing hearing loss. Your social life, overall health, and mental health can be substantially impacted by hearing loss, not to mention your inability to hear what’s happening around you. You will even raise your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. There’s lots of evidence to link neglected hearing loss to problems like social isolation.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic condition. So, as time passes, it will continue to get worse and there isn’t any cure. This doesn’t pertain to every kind of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. But “no cure” is not the same as “no treatment”.
If you come see us, we can help slow down the progression of your hearing loss and preserve your current levels of hearing. Hearing aids are usually the form of treatment that will be most appropriate for most kinds of hearing loss. So, for most individuals, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And your quality of life will be immensely improved by these treatments.
Two types of hearing loss
Not all hearing loss is identical. Hearing loss comes in two principal categories. You can treat one and the other can be cured. Here’s what you need to know:
- Conductive hearing loss: This type of hearing loss occurs because something gets in the way and obstructs your ear canal. It may be caused by a buildup of earwax. Possibly, an ear infection is causing inflammation. When something is obstructing your ear canals, whatever it might be, sound waves won’t be capable of getting 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 irreversible form of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are sensed by delicate hairs in your ears called stereocilia. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. As you go through life, these hairs get damaged, by loud sound typically. And once they are damaged, the hairs don’t function. This decreases your ability to hear. Your body won’t naturally regrow these hairs and we presently have no way to mend them. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
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 allow you to hear as much as possible given your hearing loss. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, enhancing your situational awareness, and allowing you to hear conversations is the goal.
So, what are these treatment strategies? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Most likely, the single most common way of managing hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be individually tuned to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. Wearing a hearing aid will allow you to better understand conversations and communicate with others over the course of your day to day life. Hearing aids can even slow down many symptoms of social solitude (and the danger of depression and dementia as a result).
There are many different styles of hearing aid to choose from and they have become much more common. In order to identify which model is suited to your taste and degree of hearing loss, you’ll need to come see us for a consultation.
When hearing loss is complete, it sometimes makes sense to bypass the ears altogether. A cochlear implant does exactly that. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has translated into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. Your brain then interprets those signals as sound.
Cochlear implants are usually 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 continuously being researched by scientists.
These new advances are frequently aimed at “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously proven impossible. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: Your own stem cells are used in this kind of treatment. The idea is that these stem cells can then develop into new stereocilia (those delicate hairs in 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 initiate the production of stereocilia. The stem cells go dormant after they create stereocilia and are then known as progenitor cells. New therapies seek to reactivate these progenitor cells, encouraging them to once more create new stereocilia. Encouraging outcomes for these novel therapies have come from early human trials. Most people noticed a substantial improvement in their ability to hear and understand speech. How long before these therapies are widely available, however, isn’t known.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been identified by scientists that is crucial for the regrowth of stereocilia. It’s hoped that by identifying this protein, scientists will get a better idea of how to get those stereocilia to start growing back. This treatment is very much still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Stay in the moment – treat your hearing loss now
There’s a great deal of promise in these innovations. But let’s not forget that none of them are available to the public at this time. Which means that it’s wise to live in the here and now. Protect your hearing today.
Don’t try and hold out for that miracle cure, call us today to schedule a hearing exam.