Yellow question mark on a background of black sign to reiterate the question; is there a cure for hearing loss.

New cures are constantly being discovered. That may be a positive or a negative. For example, you may look at encouraging new research in the area of curing hearing loss and you figure you don’t really have to be all that careful. By the time you start showing symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have discovered the cure for deafness.

That would be unwise. Clearly, protecting your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the wiser choice. Scientists are making some incredible strides when it comes to treating hearing loss though, and that includes some potential cures in the future.

Hearing loss is awful

Hearing loss is just a fact of life. It doesn’t indicate you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being penalized. It just… is. But there are some definite drawbacks to dealing with hearing loss. Not only do you hear less, but the condition can impact your social life, your mental health, and your overall wellness. Untreated hearing loss can even lead to an increased risk of depression and dementia. There’s lots of evidence to link neglected hearing loss to issues like social isolation.

Usually, hearing loss is a chronic and degenerative condition. So, over time, it will continue to get worse and there isn’t any cure. That’s not accurate for every form of hearing loss, but more on that in a bit. 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 maintain your current levels of hearing. Frequently, this means using a hearing aid, which is often the optimum treatment for most types of hearing loss. So there are treatments for most individuals but there’s no cure. And your quality of life will be greatly improved by these treatments.

Hearing loss comes in two main types

Not all hearing loss is identical. There are two main categories of hearing loss. You can treat one and the other can be cured. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Conductive hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss happens because something gets in the way and blocks your ear canal. It may be due to an accumulation of earwax. Perhaps, an ear infection is causing swelling. Whatever the cause, there’s something physically blocking sound waves from traveling up to your inner ear. This form of hearing loss can indeed be cured, usually by removing the obstruction (or treating whatever is creating the obstruction in the first place).
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss is irreversible. There are fragile hairs in your ear (called stereocilia) that sense minute vibrations in the air. Your brain is able to interpret these vibrations as sound. Regrettably, these hairs are compromised as you go through life, usually by exceedingly loud sounds. And once they’re damaged, the hairs no longer function. This reduces your ability to hear. Your body doesn’t naturally regrow these hairs and we currently have no way to repair them. When you lose them, it’s forever.

Sensorineural hearing loss treatments

Just because sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. The purpose 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, what are these treatment strategies? Common treatments include the following.

Hearing aids

Most likely, the one most prevalent way of treating hearing loss is hearing aids. They’re particularly useful because hearing aids can be specifically tuned for your unique hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid will allow you to better understand conversations and interact with others during your daily life. Many of the symptoms of social isolation can be staved off by using hearing aids (and, as a result, reduced your risk of dementia and depression).

There are many different styles of hearing aid to pick from and they have become a lot 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.

Cochlear implants

When hearing loss is total, it sometimes makes sense to bypass the ears altogether. That’s what a cochlear implant does. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. The device picks up on sounds and translates those sounds into electrical energy, which is then transmitted straight to your cochlear nerve. This enables your brain to translate those signals into sounds.

When a person has a condition known as deafness, or total hearing loss, cochlear implants are sometimes used. So there will still be treatment solutions even if you have completely lost your hearing.

Novel advances

Scientists are continuously working on new ways to treat hearing loss.

These new advances are often geared towards “curing” hearing loss in ways that have previously proven impossible. Here are a few of those advances:

  • Stem cell therapies: These treatments utilize stem cells from your own body. The concept is that these stem cells can then develop into new stereocilia (those little hairs inside of your ears). It isn’t likely that we will have prescription gene therapy for some time, but for now, studies with animals are showing promise.
  • Progenitor cell activation: So the stereocilia in your ear are being created by your body’s stem cells. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells go dormant, and they are then called progenitor cells. These new treatments are stimulating the stereocilia to regrow by reactivating the progenitor cells. Encouraging results for these novel therapies have come from early human trials. Most patients noticed a significant improvement in their ability to hear and comprehend 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 discovering this protein, researchers will get a better idea of how to get those stereocilia to begin to grow back. This treatment is very much 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 it’s worthwhile to stress that none of them are available yet. Which means that it’s a good idea to live in the here and now. Be proactive about protecting your hearing.

A miracle cure likely isn’t coming soon, so if you’re struggling with hearing loss, give us a call to schedule your hearing exam.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.