New cures are constantly being found. That might be a positive or a negative. You might decide that you don’t really have to be very careful 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 exhibit any symptoms of hearing loss.
That would be unwise. Without a doubt, it’s better to safeguard your hearing while you can. There is some exciting research coming out which is revealing some awesome strides toward successfully treating hearing loss.
It isn’t any fun to lose your hearing
Hearing loss is just something that happens. It’s not inevitably because of something you did wrong. It’s just part of getting older. But there are some distinct disadvantages to dealing with hearing loss. Your social life, overall wellness, and mental health can be significantly impacted by hearing loss, not to mention your inability to hear what’s taking place around you. Neglected hearing loss can even lead to a greater risk of depression and dementia. Lots of evidence exists that shows a link between social isolation and neglected hearing loss.
Usually, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative condition. This means that there isn’t any cure and, as time passes, it’ll get worse. That’s not true for every type of hearing loss, but more on that in a bit. But “no cure” is not the same as “no treatment”.
If you come see us, we can help slow down the development 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 forms of hearing loss. So, for most people, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And those treatments can do a world of good when it comes to improving your quality of life.
Hearing loss comes in two main types
There are differences in types of hearing loss. Hearing loss comes in two principal categories. You can treat one and the other can be cured. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Conductive hearing loss: When the ear canal gets obstructed by something, you get this type of hearing loss. It might be caused by an accumulation of earwax. Maybe it’s inflammation from an ear infection. Whatever it is, there’s something physically stopping sound waves from traveling up to your inner ear. This kind of hearing loss can indeed be cured, usually by removing the obstruction (or treating whatever is causing the obstruction in the first place).
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the more permanent form of hearing loss. Vibrations in the air are sensed by fragile hairs in your ears called stereocilia. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. Unfortunately, these hairs are damaged as you go through life, usually by overly loud sounds. And these hairs stop working after they get damaged. And when this happens your ability to hear becomes impaired. There’s presently no way to repair these hairs, and your body doesn’t make new ones naturally. When you lose them, it’s forever.
Sensorineural hearing loss treatments
Sensorineural hearing loss may be irreversible but that doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. Given your loss of hearing, letting you hear as much as you can is the purpose of treatment. The objective is to help you hear conversations, enhance your situational awareness, and keep you functioning independently through life.
So, how do you deal with this type of hearing loss? Common treatments include the following.
Most likely, the one most common way of treating hearing loss is hearing aids. They’re particularly beneficial because hearing aids can be specially tuned for your distinct hearing loss. During the course of your day, a hearing aid will help you make out conversations and interact with people better. Many of the symptoms of social solitude can be prevented by using hearing aids (and, as a result, lower your danger of dementia and depression).
Having your own pair of hearing aids is incredibly common, and there are lots of styles to pick from. In order to identify 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 entirely if hearing loss is complete. A cochlear implant does exactly that. Surgery is performed to put this device into the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has converted 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 even if your hearing has completely gone, there are still treatment solutions available.
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 been impossible. Some of these advances include:
- Stem cell therapies: These treatments use stem cells from your own body. The idea is that new stereocilia can be created by these stem cells (those delicate hairs in your ears). Studies with mammals (like rats and mice) have shown some promise, but some kind of prescription stem cell gene therapy is probably still going to be a while.
- Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear initiate the creation of stereocilia. The stem cells become inactive after they create stereocilia and are then referred to as progenitor cells. These new therapies are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by waking up the progenitor cells. This particular novel therapy has been tried in humans, and the outcomes seem encouraging. Most people noticed a substantial improvement in their ability to hear and understand speech. How long it will be before these treatments are widely available, however, is unknown.
- GFI1 Protein: Some researchers have discovered a protein that’s critical to growing new stereocilia. It’s hoped that by identifying this protein, scientists will get a better concept of how to get those stereocilia to begin to grow back. 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 great deal of promise in these innovations. But it’s important to emphasize that none of them are available yet. Which means that it’s smart to live in the here and now. Be proactive about protecting your hearing.
Don’t try and hold out for that miracle cure, call us now to schedule a hearing exam.
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