New cures are constantly being discovered. That may be a positive or a negative. For instance, you might look at promising new research in the arena of curing hearing loss and you decide you don’t really need to be all that cautious. 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 wouldn’t be wise. Clearly, protecting your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the smarter choice. Scientists are making some incredible strides when it comes to treating hearing loss though, and that includes some potential cures in the future.
It’s no fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is simply something that happens. It’s not necessarily because of something you did wrong. It’s just part of the aging process. But there are some definite disadvantages to dealing with hearing loss. Your social life, general health, and mental health can be significantly affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s taking place around you. Untreated hearing loss can even result in an increased risk of depression and dementia. Lots of evidence exists that shows a connection between social isolation and neglected hearing loss.
Hearing loss is, generally speaking, a degenerative and chronic situation. This means that there isn’t any cure and, as time passes, it’ll grow worse. That’s not true for every kind of hearing loss, but more on that below. Even though there’s no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated.
We can help you protect your levels of hearing and slow the development of hearing loss. Frequently, this means using a hearing aid, which is usually the ideal treatment for most types 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 main categories. One can be cured, the other can be treated. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets blocked by something, you get this type of hearing loss. Maybe it’s a bunch of earwax (a little gross, but it happens). Perhaps it’s swelling caused by an ear infection. Whatever the cause, there’s something physically stopping sound waves from moving up to your inner ear. This kind of hearing loss will be cured when the cause of the obstruction is removed.
- 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 interpreted as sound by your brain. As you go through life, these hairs get damaged, by loud sound typically. And once they’re damaged, the hairs don’t function. This decreases your ability to hear. There’s presently no way to restore these hairs, and your body doesn’t grow new ones naturally. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Treatments for sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss may be permanent but that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. The purpose 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, increase your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, how do you treat this type of hearing loss? Here are some common treatments.
Most likely, the single most common way of treating hearing loss is hearing aids. They’re particularly useful because hearing aids can be specifically tuned for your unique hearing loss. 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 danger of depression and dementia as a result).
Having your own pair of hearing aids is extremely common, and there are many styles to pick from. 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.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to bypass the ears altogether if hearing loss is total. A cochlear implant does just that. Surgery is used to put 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 translate those signals into sounds.
Cochlear implants are normally used when hearing loss is complete, a condition known as deafness. So there will still be treatment options even if you have totally lost your hearing.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are always being researched by scientists.
These new advances are frequently geared towards “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously been impossible. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: These treatments use stem cells from your own body. The idea is that these stem cells can then transform into new stereocilia (those tiny hairs inside of your ears). Studies with animals (like rats and mice) have shown some promise, but some kind of prescription stem cell gene therapy still seems a long way off.
- Progenitor cell activation: So the stereocilia in your ear are being produced by your body’s stem cells. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells go dormant, and they are then known as progenitor cells. New treatments seek to reactivate these progenitor cells, stimulating them to once more create new stereocilia. This particular novel therapy has been tried in humans, and the results seem encouraging. Most people noticed a significant improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend speech. It isn’t really known how long it will be before these treatments will be widely available.
- GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been discovered by scientists that is essential for the regrowth of stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a clearer concept 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 at this time. Which means that it’s smart to live in the here and now. Be proactive about safeguarding your hearing.
Don’t try and hold out for that miracle cure, call us today to schedule a hearing exam.
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