Every day scientists are finding new cures. That could be a positive or a negative. For instance, you might look at promising new research in the arena of curing hearing loss and you figure you don’t really need to be all that cautious. By the time you start exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have discovered the cure for deafness.
That’s not a good idea. Obviously, protecting your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the smarter choice. There is some amazing research emerging which is revealing some amazing strides toward effectively treating hearing loss.
It isn’t any fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just a fact of life. It’s not inevitably because of something you did wrong. It just… is. But there are some distinct disadvantages to experiencing hearing loss. Your social life, overall health, and mental health can be substantially affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s going on around you. Untreated hearing loss can even result in an increased risk of depression and dementia. There’s plenty of evidence to link untreated hearing loss to problems such as social isolation.
Usually, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative condition. So, as time passes, it will keep getting worse and there is no cure. This doesn’t apply to every form of hearing loss but we’ll get to that soon. Even though there’s no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated.
We can help you maintain your levels of hearing and slow the development of hearing loss. Hearing aids are often the form of treatment that will be most appropriate for most forms of hearing loss. So there are treatments for most people but there’s no cure. And your quality of life will be immensely improved by these treatments.
Hearing loss comes in two main kinds
Not all hearing loss is the same. 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 type of hearing loss takes place because something gets in the way and obstructs your ear canal. It may be due to a buildup of earwax. Possibly, an ear infection is causing swelling. When something is blocking your ear canals, whatever it may be, sound waves won’t be capable of getting to your inner ear. This form of hearing loss will be cured when the cause of the obstruction is removed.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This form of hearing loss is more permanent. Vibrations in the air are sensed by fragile hairs in your ears known as stereocilia. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. Regrettably, these hairs are compromised as you go through life, typically by overly loud sounds. And once they’re damaged, the hairs no longer function. And when this happens your ability to hear becomes diminished. Your body doesn’t naturally regrow these hairs and we currently have no way to heal them. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Treatments for sensorineural hearing loss
Just because sensorineural hearing loss is permanent doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. The purpose of any such treatment is to let you hear as much as you can given your hearing loss. The goal is to help you hear conversations, increase your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, how do you deal with this form of hearing loss? Here are some prevalent treatments.
Most likely, the single most common way of managing hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be specially calibrated to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially beneficial. During the course of your day, a hearing aid will help you make out conversations and communicate with people better. Hearing aids can even forestall many symptoms of social solitude (and the risk of depression and dementia as a result).
There are many different styles of hearing aid to pick from and they have become much more common. You’ll have to talk to us about which is best for you and your specific degree 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 performed to insert this device into the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has translated into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. Your brain then interprets those signals as sound.
When a person has a condition called deafness, or total hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So there will still be treatment options even if you have totally 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. Here are a few of those advances:
- 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 inside of 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 initiate the production of stereocilia. The stem cells become inactive after they create stereocilia and are then referred to as progenitor cells. These new treatments are encouraging the stereocilia to regrow by reactivating the progenitor cells. Encouraging outcomes for these new therapies have come from early human trials. Most patients noticed a substantial improvement in their ability to hear and understand speech. How long before these therapies are widely available, however, is unknown.
- GFI1 Protein: Some researchers have discovered a protein that’s essential to growing new stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a clearer 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.
Stay in the moment – address your hearing loss now
Lots of these innovations are encouraging. But it’s worthwhile to emphasize that none of them are ready yet. Which means that it’s smart to live in the here and now. Protect your hearing today.
Don’t try to wait for that miracle cure, call us now to schedule a hearing exam.