Every day scientists are coming up with new cures. That might be a positive or a negative. You may think that you really don’t have 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 exhibiting 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 can. Scientists are making some phenomenal advances on the subject of treating hearing loss though, and that includes some potential cures in the future.
Hearing loss is awful
Hearing loss is just something that occurs. It’s not necessarily because of something you did wrong. It just… is. But there are some definite disadvantages to dealing with hearing loss. Not only do you hear less, but the condition can affect your social life, your mental health, and your long term wellness. You will even increase your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. There’s plenty of evidence to link untreated hearing loss to problems like social isolation.
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 apply to every type 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. Frequently, this means using a hearing aid, which is often the optimum treatment for most types of hearing loss. So, for most individuals, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And those treatments can do a world of good when it comes to improving your quality of life.
Two forms of hearing loss
There are differences in forms of hearing loss. There are two primary classes of hearing loss. One can be cured, the other can be managed. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss takes place because something gets in the way and obstructs your ear canal. It may be because of an accumulation of earwax. Possibly, an ear infection is causing swelling. When something is obstructing your ear canals, whatever it may 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 irreversible type of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are picked up by delicate hairs in your ears called stereocilia. These vibrations can be translated to sound by your brain. Regrettably, these hairs are damaged as you go through life, typically by exceedingly loud sounds. And once they’re damaged, the hairs no longer function. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes impaired. Your body won’t naturally regrow these hairs and we currently have no way to heal 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 managed. 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, improve your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, how do you manage this type of hearing loss? Here are some common treatments.
Hearing aids are probably the single most prevalent means of managing hearing loss. Hearing aids can be specially calibrated to your particular hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. Using a hearing aid will let you better understand conversations and interact with others over the course of your day to day life. Hearing aids can even forestall many symptoms of social isolation (and, as a result, reduced your risk of dementia and depression).
There are lots of different styles of hearing aid to pick from and they have become much more common. In order to determine which model is suited to your taste and degree of hearing loss, you’ll have to come see us for a consultation.
When hearing loss is total, it often makes sense to bypass the ears altogether. That’s what a cochlear implant does. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. This device directly transfers sound, which it has converted into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. This enables your brain to translate those signals into sounds.
When a person has a condition known as deafness, or complete hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So even if your hearing has gone away completely, there are still treatment solutions available.
Scientists are always 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 kind of treatment. The concept is that these stem cells can then turn into new stereocilia (those little hairs in 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 produced by your body’s stem cells. The stem cells become inactive after they create stereocilia and are then referred to as progenitor cells. New treatments seek to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once again grow new stereocilia. This specific novel therapy has been tried in humans, and the results seem encouraging. There was a substantial improvement, for most people, in their ability to hear and understand speech. How long before these treatments are widely available, however, is unknown.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been identified by researchers that is crucial for the regrowth of stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a better concept of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by recognizing this protein. This treatment is really still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Don’t wait to have your hearing loss treated
There’s a lot of promise in these innovations. But it’s worthwhile to emphasize that none of them are available yet. So it’s a bad idea to wait to get treatment for your hearing loss. Protect your hearing today.
Don’t try to wait for that miracle cure, call us now to schedule a hearing exam.