New cures are constantly being found. That might be a positive or a negative. You might think that you really don’t have to be very vigilant about your hearing because you read some promising research about prospective future cures for deafness. You’ll feel like they will most likely have a cure for deafness by the time you will notice any symptoms of hearing loss.
That’s not a good idea. Obviously, safeguarding your hearing now while it’s still in good shape would be the smarter 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 isn’t any fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just something that takes place. It doesn’t indicate you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being penalized. It’s just part of the aging process. But developing hearing loss has some extreme disadvantages. Your social life, overall health, and mental health can be substantially affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s taking place around you. Neglected hearing loss can even lead to an increased risk of depression and dementia. There’s lots of evidence to connect neglected hearing loss to problems such as social isolation.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic condition. So, over time, it will continue to get worse and there isn’t any 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”.
If you come see us, we can help slow the development of your hearing loss and protect your current levels of hearing. Often, this comes in the form of a hearing aid, which is usually the ideal 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
Not all hearing loss is identical. Hearing loss comes in two principal classes. One can be cured, the other can be managed. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets obstructed by something, you get this form of hearing loss. It may be caused by a buildup of earwax. Maybe, an ear infection is causing swelling. When something is blocking your ear canals, whatever it might be, sound waves won’t be capable of getting to your inner ear. This form of hearing loss can certainly be cured, normally by eliminating the blockage (or treating whatever is creating the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more permanent form of hearing loss. There are tiny hairs in your ear (called stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. Your brain is capable of interpreting these vibrations as sound. Unfortunately, these hairs are damaged as you go through life, typically by overly loud sounds. And once they’re damaged, the hairs don’t function. And when this happens your ability to hear becomes diminished. 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 irreversible doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. The goal of any such treatment is to let you 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 goal.
So, how do you deal with this form of hearing loss? Prevalent treatments include the following.
Hearing aids are likely the single most prevalent means of treating hearing loss. Hearing aids can be individually calibrated to your particular hearing needs, so they’re especially useful. Using a hearing aid will allow you to better comprehend conversations and communicate with others over the course of your day to day life. Many of the symptoms of social solitude can be prevented by wearing hearing aids (and the risk of depression and dementia as a result).
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 need to come see us for a consultation.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to bypass the ears altogether if hearing loss is total. That’s what a cochlear implant does. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has converted into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. This allows your brain to convert those signals into sounds.
Cochlear implants are usually used when hearing loss is complete, a condition known as deafness. So there will still be treatment solutions even if you have completely lost your hearing.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are continuously being researched by scientists.
These new advances are frequently aimed at “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 treatment. The idea is that new stereocilia can be generated by these stem cells (those little hairs in your ears). It isn’t likely that we will have prescription gene therapy for some time, but for now, studies with animals are promising.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear initiate the production of stereocilia. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells become inactive, and they are then referred to as progenitor cells. New therapies aim to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once more create new stereocilia. Encouraging outcomes for these novel therapies have come from early human trials. There was a significant improvement, for most people, 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: There’s a protein which has been discovered by researchers that is crucial for the regrowth of stereocilia. It’s hoped that by discovering this protein, researchers will get a better concept of how to get those stereocilia to start growing back. Once again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” phase than the “widely available” phase.
Live in the moment – deal with your hearing loss now
There’s a great deal of promise in these innovations. But it’s worthwhile to stress that none of them are available yet. Which means that it’s wise to live in the here and now. Be proactive about safeguarding your hearing.
A miracle cure likely isn’t coming soon, so if you’re coping with hearing loss, call us today to schedule your hearing test.