Every day scientists are coming up with new cures. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. For instance, you may look at promising new research in the arena of curing hearing loss and you figure you don’t really have to be all that cautious. 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’s not a good idea. Clearly, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the wiser choice. Scientists are making some remarkable advances when it comes to treating hearing loss though, including some potential cures in the future.
Hearing loss stinks
Hearing loss is just something that occurs. It’s not inevitably because of something you did wrong. It just… is. But there are some definite drawbacks to dealing with hearing loss. Not only can you hear less, but the disorder can affect your social life, your mental health, and your long term health. Neglected hearing loss can even result in a greater risk of depression and dementia. There’s lots of evidence to connect neglected hearing loss to issues like social isolation.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic situation. So, as time passes, it will continue to get worse and there isn’t any cure. This doesn’t apply to every kind of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. But “no cure” isn’t the same as “no treatment”.
If you come see us, we can help slow down the progression of your hearing loss and protect your current levels of hearing. Hearing aids are often the form of treatment that will be most appropriate for most types of hearing loss. So, for most individuals, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And your quality of life will be greatly improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main forms
Not all hearing loss is the same. Hearing loss comes in two main classes. 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 takes place because something gets in the way and obstructs your ear canal. Maybe it’s a clump of earwax (a bit gross, but it happens). Maybe it’s inflammation from 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 cause of the obstruction is removed.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more irreversible type of hearing loss. There are fragile 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 noises typically. And these hairs stop functioning after they get damaged. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes impaired. There’s currently no way to restore these hairs, and your body doesn’t create new ones naturally. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Treatments for sensorineural hearing loss
Just because sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. The purpose of any such treatment is to let you hear as much as possible given your hearing loss. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, improving your situational awareness, and allowing you to hear conversations is the objective.
So, how do you manage this type of hearing loss? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Most likely, the one most common way of managing hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be specially tuned to your particular hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. During the course of your day, a hearing aid will help you understand conversations and interact with people better. Hearing aids can even slow down many symptoms of social solitude (and, as a result, reduced your danger of dementia and depression).
Getting your own set of hearing aids is incredibly common, and there are lots of styles to pick from. In order to identify which model is suited to your taste and degree of hearing loss, you’ll have to come see us for a consultation.
Often, it will be necessary to bypass the ears entirely if hearing loss is complete. That’s what a cochlear implant does. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. This device directly transfers sound, which it has translated into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. This enables your brain to translate 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 options even if you have totally lost your hearing.
Scientists are continuously working on new ways to treat hearing loss.
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 therapy. The idea is that these stem cells can then develop into new stereocilia (those little 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 go dormant after they develop stereocilia and are then known as progenitor cells. These new treatments are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by reactivating the progenitor cells. This particular novel therapy has been tried in humans, and the outcomes seem encouraging. There was a substantial improvement, for most patients, in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. It isn’t really known how long it will be before these therapies will be widely available.
- GFI1 Protein: Some researchers have identified a protein that’s essential to growing new stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a better concept of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by recognizing this protein. This treatment is very much still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Live in the moment – deal with your hearing loss now
Lots of these innovations are promising. But let’s remember that none of them are available to the public at this point. So it’s not a good plan to wait to get treatment for your loss of hearing. Be proactive about protecting your hearing.
Don’t try and hold out for that miracle cure, call us today to schedule a hearing exam.