Every day scientists are discovering new cures. That may be a positive or a negative. For example, you might look at encouraging new research in the area 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’s not a good idea. Without question, it’s better to protect your hearing while you have it. Scientists are making some phenomenal strides when it comes to treating hearing loss though, and that includes some possible cures in the future.
It’s no fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just something that occurs. It doesn’t suggest you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being punished. It’s just part of getting older. But developing hearing loss has some extreme disadvantages. Your social life, general health, and mental health can be considerably affected by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s happening 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.
In general, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative problem. This means that there’s no cure and, as time passes, it’ll get worse. That’s not accurate for every form of hearing loss, but more on that below. Even though there’s no cure, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed.
If you come see us, we can help slow down the progression of your hearing loss and protect your current levels of hearing. Hearing aids are often the form of treatment that will be most ideal for most types of hearing loss. So there are treatments for most people but there’s no cure. And those treatments can do a lot of good when it comes to enhancing your quality of life.
Hearing loss comes in two main forms
Not all hearing loss is identical. Hearing loss comes in two principal categories. You can treat one and the other can be cured. Here’s what you need to know:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets obstructed by something, you get this type of hearing loss. It might be due to a buildup of earwax. Perhaps it’s inflammation caused by an ear infection. Whatever the cause, there’s something physically stopping sound waves from traveling up to your inner ear. This form of hearing loss will be cured when the source of the obstruction is eliminated.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This type of hearing loss is irreversible. There are delicate hairs in your ear (known as stereocilia) that pick up minute vibrations in the air. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. Regrettably, these hairs are destroyed as you go through life, typically by exceedingly loud sounds. And these hairs stop working after they become damaged. And when this occurs your ability to hear becomes diminished. Your body doesn’t naturally regrow these hairs and we presently have no way to repair them. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
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 allow you to hear as much as you can given your hearing loss. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, enhancing your situational awareness, and letting you hear conversations is the goal.
So, what are these treatment strategies? Here are some common treatments.
Most likely, the one most prevalent way of treating hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can be individually tuned to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially useful. Using a hearing aid will allow you to better understand conversations and communicate with others over the course of your day to day life. Hearing aids can even delay many symptoms of social solitude (and, as a result, reduced your danger of dementia and depression).
Having your own pair of hearing aids is extremely common, and there are many styles to choose from. In order to figure out which model is suited to your taste and level of hearing loss, you’ll need to come see us for a consultation.
Often, it will be necessary to bypass the ears altogether if hearing loss is total. A cochlear implant does just that. Surgery is performed to put this device 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 called 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.
New novel ways of treating hearing loss are continuously 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 therapies use stem cells from your own body. The concept is that these stem cells can then transform into new stereocilia (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 originate the creation of stereocilia. The stem cells become inactive after they develop stereocilia and 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. There was a substantial improvement, for most patients, 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 identified by researchers that is essential for the regrowth of stereocilia. Scientists 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 very much still on the drawing board and isn’t widely available yet.
Live in the moment – address your hearing loss now
There’s a great deal of promise in these innovations. But let’s not forget that none of them are available to the public right now. Which means that it’s wise to live in the here and now. Protect your hearing now.
Don’t try and wait for that miracle cure, call us today to schedule a hearing exam.
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