New cures are constantly being found. That can be a good or bad thing. You may figure that you don’t really have to be all that careful about your hearing because you read some promising research about prospective future cures for deafness. By the time you begin showing symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have discovered the cure for deafness.
That would be unwise. Without a doubt, it’s better to protect your hearing while you can. Scientists are making some amazing advances when it comes to treating hearing loss though, and that includes some possible cures in the future.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is just a fact of life. It doesn’t suggest you’re a negative person or you did something wrong or you’re being penalized. It’s just part of getting older. But there are some distinct disadvantages to dealing with hearing loss. Not only can you hear less, but the disorder can affect your social life, your mental health, and your overall health. You will even raise your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. There’s plenty of evidence to link untreated hearing loss to issues such as social isolation.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic condition. This means that there isn’t any cure and, over time, it’ll get worse. This doesn’t pertain to every form of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. But “no cure” isn’t the same as “no treatment”.
We can help you maintain your levels of hearing and slow the development of hearing loss. Hearing aids are frequently the form of treatment that will be most appropriate 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 kinds
There are differences in forms of hearing loss. Hearing loss comes in two principal categories. One can be cured, the other can be treated. Here’s what you need to know:
- Conductive hearing loss: This form of hearing loss happens because something gets in the way and obstructs your ear canal. It may be due to a buildup of earwax. Perhaps it’s swelling caused by an ear infection. 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 permanent type of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are picked up by tiny hairs in your ears known as stereocilia. These vibrations can be interpreted as sound by your brain. As you go through life, these hairs get damaged, by loud noises typically. And once they are damaged, the hairs don’t function. And when this happens your ability to hear becomes impaired. Your body doesn’t naturally regrow these hairs and we presently have no way to heal them. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Treatments for sensorineural hearing loss
Just because sensorineural hearing loss is permanent doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. Given your loss of hearing, letting you hear as much as you can is the goal of treatment. The goal is to help you hear discussions, 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 treating hearing loss is hearing aids. They’re especially beneficial because hearing aids can be specially adjusted for your distinct hearing loss. During the course of your day, a hearing aid will help you understand conversations and communicate with others better. Hearing aids can even slow down many symptoms of social solitude (and the risk of depression and dementia as a result).
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 ideal for you and your particular level of hearing loss.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to bypass the ears altogether if hearing loss is complete. That’s what a cochlear implant does. Surgery is used to insert this device into the ear. The device picks up on sounds and converts those sounds into electrical energy, which is then transferred directly to your cochlear nerve. This allows your brain to convert those signals into sounds.
Cochlear implants are typically used when hearing loss is total, a condition called deafness. So there will still be treatment solutions even if you have completely lost your hearing.
Scientists are continuously working on new ways to treat hearing loss.
These new advances are frequently geared towards “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously proven impossible. Here are a few 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 tiny hairs inside of your ears). It isn’t likely that we will have prescription gene therapy for a while, but for now, studies with animals are promising.
- 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. Encouraging outcomes for these new therapies have come from early human trials. 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: Some scientists have discovered a protein that’s essential 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 therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” phase than the “widely available” stage.
Stay in the moment – deal with your hearing loss now
Many of these innovations are encouraging. But let’s not forget that none of them are available to the public at this point. So it’s a bad 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 coping with hearing loss, call us today to schedule your hearing assessment.