New cures are regularly being found. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. For instance, you may look at encouraging new research in the area of curing hearing loss and you figure you don’t really have to be all that careful. By the time you start showing symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have discovered the cure for deafness.
That would be unwise. Without question, it’s better to protect your hearing while you have it. There is some exciting research emerging which is revealing some amazing advances toward effectively treating hearing loss.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is just something that happens. It doesn’t indicate you’re a negative 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 experiencing hearing loss. Not only can you hear less, but the condition can affect your social life, your mental health, and your overall wellness. Neglected hearing loss can even lead to a greater risk of depression and dementia. Lots of research exists that shows a link between social isolation and untreated hearing loss.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic situation. So, as time passes, it will keep getting worse and there is no cure. That’s not accurate for every kind of hearing loss, but more on that in a bit. Even though there’s no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed.
If you come see us, we can help slow the development of your hearing loss and protect your current levels of hearing. Often, this means using a hearing aid, which is usually the optimum treatment for most forms 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.
Hearing loss comes in two main types
Not all hearing loss is identical. Hearing loss comes in two primary classes. One can be cured, the other can be treated. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets obstructed by something, you get this form of hearing loss. Possibly it’s a clump of earwax (a bit gross, but it happens). Maybe, an ear infection is causing inflammation. When something is obstructing your ear canals, whatever it may 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 tiny hairs in your ear (known as stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. Regrettably, these hairs are compromised as you go through life, usually by overly loud noises. And these hairs stop working after they get damaged. This reduces your ability to hear. There’s currently no way to restore these hairs, and your body doesn’t create new ones naturally. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Sensorineural hearing loss treatments
Just because sensorineural hearing loss is permanent doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. The purpose of any such treatment is to allow you to hear as much as you can given your hearing loss. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, improving your situational awareness, and allowing you to hear conversations is the goal.
So, what are these treatment strategies? Prevalent treatments include the following.
Hearing aids are probably the single most prevalent means of managing hearing loss. Hearing aids can be individually tuned to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially useful. Using a hearing aid will let you better understand conversations and interact with others over the course of your daily life. Many of the symptoms of social solitude can be prevented by wearing hearing aids (and the danger of depression and dementia as a result).
Having your own set of hearing aids is incredibly common, and there are lots of styles to choose from. You’ll need to speak with us about which is best for you and your particular degree of hearing loss.
Often, it will be necessary to bypass the ears entirely if hearing loss is complete. A cochlear implant does just that. This device is surgically inserted into 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.
When a person has a condition called 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 continuously being researched by scientists.
In the past, curing hearing loss has proven impossible, but that’s precisely what new advances are aimed at. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: Your own stem cells are used in this kind of treatment. The concept is that these stem cells can then transform into new stereocilia (those little hairs in your ears). Studies with mammals (like rats and mice) have shown some promise, but some form 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. The stem cells become inactive after they develop stereocilia and are then known as progenitor cells. These new treatments are encouraging the stereocilia to regrow by reactivating the progenitor cells. This specific novel therapy has been tried in humans, and the results seem encouraging. Most people noticed a substantial 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: There’s a protein which has been identified by researchers that is crucial for the regrowth of stereocilia. It’s hoped that by identifying this protein, researchers will get a better concept of how to get those stereocilia to begin to grow back. This treatment is really still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Live in the moment – deal with your hearing loss now
There’s a lot of promise in these innovations. 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. Protect your hearing now.
Don’t try to hold out for that miracle cure, call us now to schedule a hearing exam.