Every day scientists are discovering new cures. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. You may figure that you really don’t have to be very cautious about your hearing because you read some promising research about possible future cures for deafness. 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. Without a doubt, it’s better to safeguard your hearing while you can. There is some exciting research emerging which is revealing some awesome strides toward effectively treating hearing loss.
It’s no fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just something that takes place. It doesn’t suggest you’re a negative person or you did something wrong or you’re being penalized. It just… is. But developing hearing loss has some serious drawbacks. Your social life, overall wellness, and mental health can be substantially affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s going on around you. You will even increase your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. There’s lots of evidence to connect untreated hearing loss to issues like social isolation.
In general, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative condition. This means that there isn’t any cure and, over time, it’ll grow worse. This doesn’t pertain to every type of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. But “no cure” is not the same as “no treatment”.
If you come see us, we can help slow down the progression of your hearing loss and protect your current levels of hearing. Often, this comes in the form of a hearing aid, which is often the ideal 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 lot of good when it comes to improving your quality of life.
Hearing loss comes in two main forms
Not all hearing loss is the same. 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 type of hearing loss happens because something gets in the way and obstructs your ear canal. Perhaps it’s a bunch of earwax (a little gross, but it happens). Possibly, an ear infection is causing inflammation. When something is obstructing 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 removed.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This form of hearing loss is more permanent. There are fragile hairs in your ear (called stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. These vibrations can be interpreted as sound by your brain. Unfortunately, these hairs are destroyed as you go through life, typically by overly loud noises. And once they’re damaged, the hairs no longer function. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes diminished. Your body won’t naturally regrow these hairs and we currently have no way to repair 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. The goal of any such treatment is to allow you to hear as much as you can given your hearing loss. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, improving your situational awareness, and letting you hear conversations is the objective.
So, how do you treat this form of hearing loss? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Hearing aids are probably the single most prevalent means of managing hearing loss. Hearing aids can be specially calibrated to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially useful. Using a hearing aid will allow you to better comprehend conversations and interact with others during your day to day life. Many of the symptoms of social solitude can be prevented by wearing hearing aids (and, as a result, lower your danger of dementia and depression).
There are many 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 level of hearing loss, you’ll need to come see us for a consultation.
When hearing loss is complete, it sometimes makes sense to bypass the ears entirely. A cochlear implant does just that. Surgery is used to insert this device in the ear. The device picks up on sounds and converts those sounds into electrical energy, which is then transmitted straight to your cochlear nerve. This enables your brain to convert those signals into sounds.
Cochlear implants are typically used when hearing loss is total, a condition known as deafness. So there will still be treatment solutions even if you have totally lost your hearing.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are continuously being researched by scientists.
These new advances are often aimed at “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously been impossible. Here are some of those advances:
- Stem cell therapies: These therapies use stem cells from your own body. The concept is that these stem cells can then develop 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 still seems going to be a while.
- 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 known as progenitor cells. New treatments aim to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once more create new stereocilia. This particular novel therapy has been tried in humans, and the outcomes seem encouraging. There was a significant improvement, for most patients, in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. How long it will be before these therapies are widely available, however, isn’t known.
- GFI1 Protein: Some researchers have discovered a protein that’s essential to growing new stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a better idea of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by identifying 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 let’s remember that none of them are available to the public right now. So it’s not a good idea to wait to get treatment for your hearing loss. Be proactive about safeguarding your hearing.
Don’t try and hold out for that miracle cure, call us now to schedule a hearing exam.
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