New cures are constantly being found. That can be a good or bad thing. For example, you might 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 probably have a cure for deafness by the time you will notice any symptoms of hearing loss.
That wouldn’t be wise. Clearly, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still in good shape would be the wiser choice. There is some exciting research emerging which is revealing some amazing strides toward successfully treating hearing loss.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is simply something that takes place. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being penalized. It just… is. But developing hearing loss has some major drawbacks. Your social life, overall wellness, and mental health can be substantially affected by hearing loss, not to mention your inability to hear what’s taking place around you. Untreated hearing loss can even lead to a greater risk of depression and dementia. Lots of evidence exists that shows a connection 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 isn’t any cure. This doesn’t apply to every type 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.
We can help you preserve your levels of hearing and slow the progression of hearing loss. Hearing aids are frequently the form of treatment that will be most ideal for most kinds of hearing loss. So there are treatments for most people but there’s no cure. And those treatments can do a world of good when it comes to enhancing your quality of life.
Hearing loss comes in two main forms
There are differences in forms of hearing loss. Hearing loss comes in two primary classes. You can treat one and the other can be cured. Here’s what you need to know:
- Conductive hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss happens because something gets in the way and blocks your ear canal. Maybe it’s a clump of earwax (a little gross, but it happens). Perhaps it’s swelling from an ear infection. When something is blocking your ear canals, whatever it might be, sound waves won’t be capable of getting to your inner ear. This kind of hearing loss will be cured when the source of the obstruction is eliminated.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more permanent form of hearing loss. There are tiny hairs in your ear (called stereocilia) that pick up minute vibrations in the air. These vibrations can be interpreted as sound by your brain. Regrettably, these hairs are destroyed as you go through life, usually by exceedingly loud noises. And once they’re damaged, the hairs no longer function. This diminishes your ability to hear. Your body won’t naturally regrow these hairs and we presently have no way to repair them. When you lose them, it’s forever.
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 let you hear as much as possible given your hearing loss. The objective is to help you hear discussions, enhance your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, what are these treatment strategies? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Hearing aids are probably the single most common means of treating hearing loss. They’re particularly beneficial because hearing aids can be specifically tuned for your unique hearing loss. Using a hearing aid will allow you to better understand conversations and interact with others during your day to day life. Many of the symptoms of social isolation can be staved off by wearing hearing aids (and, as a result, lower your danger of dementia and depression).
Getting your own set of hearing aids is extremely common, and there are lots of styles to pick from. You’ll need to speak with us about which is ideal 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 used to insert this device in the ear. The device picks up on sounds and translates those sounds into electrical energy, which is then transferred directly to your cochlear nerve. This allows your brain to translate those signals into sounds.
When a person has a condition known as deafness, or total hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So there will still be treatment options even if you have completely lost your hearing.
Scientists are continuously working on new ways to treat hearing loss.
In the past, curing hearing loss has proven impossible, but that’s exactly 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 idea is that new stereocilia can be generated by these stem cells (those little hairs in your ears). It’s not likely that we will have prescription gene therapy for a while, but for now, studies with animals are promising.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear originate the generation of stereocilia. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells go dormant, and they are then referred to as progenitor cells. These new treatments are encouraging 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 understand speech. It isn’t really known how long it will be before these treatments will be widely available.
- GFI1 Protein: Some scientists have identified a protein that’s critical to growing new stereocilia. It’s hoped that by finding this protein, scientists will get a better concept of how to get those stereocilia to begin to grow back. Once again, this is one of those treatments that’s more in the “drawing board” stage than the “widely available” phase.
Live in the moment – address your hearing loss now
Many of these innovations are promising. But let’s not forget 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. Protect your hearing today.
A miracle cure likely isn’t coming soon, so if you’re struggling with hearing loss, call us today to schedule your hearing exam.