Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

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

Every day scientists are coming up with new cures. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. You may think that you don’t really need to be very vigilant about your hearing because you saw some promising research about prospective future cures for deafness. By the time you begin showing symptoms of hearing loss, you think, they’ll have found the cure for deafness.

That would be unwise. Clearly, protecting your hearing now while it’s still healthy would be the smarter choice. There is some exciting research emerging which is revealing some amazing strides toward successfully treating hearing loss.

It’s no fun to lose your hearing

Hearing loss is just something that takes place. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or you did something wrong or you’re being punished. It’s just part of getting older. But there are some distinct drawbacks to dealing with hearing loss. Your social life, overall wellness, and mental health can be considerably impacted by hearing loss, along with your inability to hear what’s taking place around you. You will even increase your risk of developing dementia and depression with neglected hearing loss. Lots of evidence exists that shows a connection between social isolation and untreated hearing loss.

In general, hearing loss is a persistent and degenerative problem. 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”.

We can help you maintain your levels of hearing and slow down the progression of hearing loss. Often, this comes in the form of a hearing aid, which is usually the ideal treatment for most forms of hearing loss. So, for most people, there’s no cure, but there are treatments. And those treatments can do a lot of good when it comes to improving your quality of life.

Two forms of hearing loss

Not all hearing loss is identical. Hearing loss comes in two principal classes. 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 caused by an accumulation of earwax. Perhaps it’s inflammation from an ear infection. Whatever the cause, there’s something physically stopping sound waves from traveling up to your inner ear. This type of hearing loss will be cured when the source of the obstruction is eliminated.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: This kind of hearing loss is irreversible. Vibrations in the air are sensed by tiny hairs in your ears called stereocilia. These vibrations can be translated to sound by your brain. Regrettably, these hairs are damaged as you go through life, usually by overly loud sounds. And these hairs stop functioning after they get damaged. This decreases your ability to hear. There’s currently no way to repair these hairs, and your body doesn’t grow new ones naturally. 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 treated. Given your loss of hearing, allowing you to hear as much as possible is the goal of treatment. Keeping you functioning as independently as possible, improving your situational awareness, and allowing you to hear conversations is the objective.

So, what are these treatment strategies? Here are some common treatments.

Hearing aids

Hearing aids are probably the single most common way of managing hearing loss. Hearing aids can be individually tuned to your specific hearing needs, so they’re especially useful. Wearing a hearing aid will let you better comprehend conversations and communicate with others over the course of your day to day life. Many of the symptoms of social isolation can be prevented by using hearing aids (and the danger of depression and dementia as a result).

Getting your own pair of hearing aids is incredibly 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 need to come see us for a consultation.

Cochlear implants

Often, it will be necessary to bypass the ears entirely if hearing loss is complete. That’s what a cochlear implant does. This device is surgically inserted into the ear. This device directly transmits sound, which it has translated into electrical energy, to your cochlear nerve. This allows your brain to translate those signals into sounds.

Cochlear implants are usually used when hearing loss is complete, a condition known as deafness. So even if your hearing has gone away completely, there are still treatment solutions available.

Novel advances

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

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: Your own stem cells are used in this type of therapy. The idea is that new stereocilia can be created by these stem cells (those little hairs in your ears). It’s not likely that we will have prescription gene therapy for a while, but for now, studies with animals are showing promise.
  • Progenitor cell activation: So, stem cells in your ear originate the creation of stereocilia. Once the stereocilia develop, the stem cells become inactive, and they are then known as progenitor cells. These new therapies are encouraging the stereocilia to regrow by waking up the progenitor cells. Encouraging results for these novel therapies have come from early human trials. There was a significant improvement, for most people, in their ability to hear and understand speech. How long before these therapies are widely available, however, isn’t known.
  • GFI1 Protein: There’s a protein which has been identified by scientists that is essential for the regrowth of stereocilia. Researchers are hoping that they can get a clearer idea of how to get these stereocilia to grow back by identifying this protein. Again, this is one of those therapies that’s more in the “drawing board” phase than the “widely available” stage.

Stay in the moment – deal with your hearing loss now

There’s a lot of promise in these innovations. But let’s remember that none of them are available to the public right now. So it’s a bad plan to wait to get treatment for your loss of hearing. Be proactive about protecting your hearing.

Don’t try and hold out for that miracle cure, call us as soon as you can to schedule a 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.
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