New cures are constantly being discovered. That might be a positive or a negative. 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 careful. 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. Without a doubt, it’s better to safeguard your hearing while you can. There is some exciting research coming out which is revealing some amazing advances toward successfully treating hearing loss.
It isn’t any fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just something that takes place. It doesn’t indicate you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being penalized. It’s just part of the aging process. But developing hearing loss has some extreme disadvantages. Your social life, overall wellness, and mental health can be considerably impacted by hearing loss, not to mention your inability to hear what’s taking place around you. Neglected hearing loss can even result in an increased risk of depression and dementia. Lots of evidence exists that shows a link between social isolation and neglected hearing loss.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic situation. So, as time passes, it will continue to get worse and there is no cure. This doesn’t pertain to every form of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. Even though there is no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated.
If you come see us, we can help slow the development of your hearing loss and maintain your current levels of hearing. Frequently, this means using a hearing aid, which is often the optimal treatment for most forms of hearing loss. So, for most individuals, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And those treatments can do a lot of good when it comes to improving your quality of life.
Hearing loss comes in two main kinds
There are differences in kinds of hearing loss. There are two main categories of hearing loss. One can be cured, the other can be treated. Here’s what you need to know:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets obstructed by something, you get this type of hearing loss. Perhaps it’s a clump of earwax (a little gross, but it happens). Maybe, an ear infection is causing inflammation. Whatever it is, there’s something physically stopping sound waves from moving up to your inner ear. This form of hearing loss will be cured when the cause of the obstruction is eliminated.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This form of hearing loss is more permanent. Vibrations in the air are sensed by delicate hairs in your ears called stereocilia. These vibrations can be translated to sound by your brain. As you go through life, these hairs become damaged, by loud noises usually. And once they’re damaged, the hairs don’t function. This diminishes your ability to hear. There’s currently no way to heal these hairs, and your body doesn’t make new ones naturally. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Treatments for sensorineural hearing loss
Just because sensorineural hearing loss is permanent doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. Given your loss of hearing, allowing you to hear as much as you can is the purpose of treatment. The objective is to help you hear conversations, increase your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, what are these treatment strategies? Common treatments include the following.
Most likely, the single most prevalent way of managing hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be individually calibrated to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. During the course of your day, a hearing aid will help you make out conversations and communicate with others better. Hearing aids can even forestall many symptoms of social solitude (and, as a result, decrease your risk of dementia and depression).
There are lots of different styles of hearing aid to choose from and they have become a lot more common. You’ll have to talk to us about which is best for you and your particular level of hearing loss.
When hearing loss is total, it often makes sense to bypass the ears altogether. That’s what a cochlear implant does. Surgery is performed to put this device in the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has converted 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 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.
In the past, curing hearing loss has been impossible, but that’s precisely what new advances are aimed at. Here are some of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: Your own stem cells are used in this type of therapy. The concept is that new stereocilia can be generated by these stem cells (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 originate the production of stereocilia. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells become inactive, and they are then referred to as progenitor cells. These new treatments are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by waking up the progenitor cells. This particular novel therapy has been tried in humans, and the outcomes seem encouraging. Most patients noticed a significant improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. It isn’t really known how long it will be before these treatments will be widely available.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been discovered by researchers that is critical for the regrowth of stereocilia. It’s hoped that by discovering this protein, researchers will get a better concept of how to get those stereocilia to start growing back. Again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” stage than the “widely available” stage.
Don’t wait to get your hearing loss treated
Many of these innovations are promising. But it’s essential to stress that none of them are ready yet. So it’s a bad idea to wait to get treatment for your loss of hearing. Protect your hearing now.
A miracle cure isn’t likely to be coming soon, so if you’re coping with hearing loss, give us a call to schedule your hearing exam.