New cures are always being found. That may be a positive or a negative. You might decide that you really don’t need to be all that vigilant about your hearing because you saw some promising research about possible future cures for deafness. By the time you start showing symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have discovered the cure for deafness.
That’s not a smart idea. Obviously, protecting your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the wiser choice. Scientists are making some incredible advances when it comes to treating hearing loss though, and that includes some potential cures in the future.
It’s no fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just a fact of life. It’s not necessarily because of something you did wrong. It’s just part of the aging process. But there are some distinct drawbacks to dealing with hearing loss. Your social life, overall wellness, and mental health can be significantly affected by hearing loss, not to mention your inability to hear what’s happening around you. Untreated hearing loss can even lead to an increased risk of depression and dementia. There’s plenty of evidence to connect untreated hearing loss to issues such as social isolation.
In general, hearing loss is a chronic and degenerative condition. This means that there’s no cure and, over time, it’ll grow worse. That’s not accurate for every kind of hearing loss, but more on that below. Even though there’s no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed.
We can help you protect your levels of hearing and slow down the development of hearing loss. Frequently, this means using a hearing aid, which is commonly the optimum treatment 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 kinds
There are differences in types of hearing loss. Hearing loss comes in two main categories. You can treat one and the other can be cured. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss happens because something gets in the way and blocks your ear canal. It may be caused by a buildup of earwax. Possibly, an ear infection is causing inflammation. When something is blocking 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 source of the obstruction is eliminated.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more irreversible form of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are picked up 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 become damaged, by loud noises usually. And these hairs stop functioning after they get damaged. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes diminished. Your body doesn’t naturally regrow these hairs and we presently have no way to mend them. 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 treated. The purpose 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 letting you hear conversations is the goal.
So, how do you deal with this type of hearing loss? Prevalent treatments include the following.
Hearing aids are likely the single most common way of treating hearing loss. They’re particularly beneficial because hearing aids can be specifically adjusted for your distinct hearing loss. Using a hearing aid will let you better understand conversations and communicate with others during 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 a lot more common. In order to identify which model is suited to your taste and level of hearing loss, you’ll need to come see us for a consultation.
When hearing loss is total, it often makes sense to bypass the ears entirely. A cochlear implant does just that. Surgery is used to insert this device in the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has translated into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. This allows your brain to convert those signals into sounds.
Cochlear implants are normally used when hearing loss is total, a condition called deafness. So even if your hearing has completely gone, there are still treatment options available.
Scientists are continuously working on new ways to treat hearing loss.
These new advances are frequently aimed at “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously proven impossible. Here are a number of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: Your own stem cells are used in this kind of treatment. The concept is that these stem cells can then turn 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 the stereocilia in your ear are being created by your body’s stem cells. The stem cells go dormant after they develop stereocilia and are then referred to as progenitor cells. These new therapies are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by reactivating the progenitor cells. This particular novel therapy has been used in humans, and the results seem encouraging. There was a significant 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 scientists have identified a protein that’s essential to growing new stereocilia. It’s hoped that by finding this protein, researchers will get a better idea 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.
Stay in the moment – treat 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 at this point. Which means that it’s smart to live in the here and now. Protect your hearing now.
Don’t try and wait for that miracle cure, call us as soon as you can to schedule a hearing exam.