You may find yourself turning up your television’s volume or struggling to follow conversations, especially in places with background noise.
About 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. If you were recently diagnosed with hearing loss or deafness, you are probably wondering whether there is a cure for your condition.
However, there is no straightforward answer to this question. It will depend on the results of the hearing test. The test tells the audiologist the type of hearing loss you are suffering from and its severity.
Types Of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss may be in two major types, and the type of hearing loss you have determines the treatment options.
1. Conductive hearing loss
This condition is caused by the blockage of one’s middle ear or the ear canal, preventing sound from penetrating to the inner ear.
An excessive build-up of ear wax in the ear canal is one of the major triggers of conductive hearing loss. Fluids in the middles ear or the ear canal resulting from infections. Other illnesses could also trigger this condition.
Conductive hearing loss is reversible (sometimes) through treatment of the root cause of the problem. This might include treating the infection, removing the ear wax, or draining the ear.
2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This happens to be the most common form of hearing loss and is often caused by damage to the cochlea cells or the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to loud noises. It is also common among older people because it also develops as one age.
Unfortunately, sensorineural hearing loss is incurable.
Hearing Loss Vs. Deafness
At this stage, it is important that we distinguish between the various levels of hearing loss.
Hearing loss: Typically, this refers to one’s reduced ability to hear sound the same way he/she used to or in comparison to others.
Deafness: This happens when an individual cannot comprehend speech through hearing. Not even when sound is augmented.
Profound Deafness: This is the total lack of one’s hearing ability. People suffering from profound deafness cannot recognize sound completely.
The severity of the hearing loss is determined by how louder the volume needs to be for one to detect the sound. Most people will use the terms profound deafness and total deafness interchangeably, while others will tell you that profound deafness is the end of one’s hearing spectrum.
Hearing Impairment is Permanent
There are rows of gentle hair cells within the fluid-filled Cochlea. When sound travels through the ear canal and hits the eardrums, the fluid in the cochlea move. The hair cells are responsible for sensing the fluid movements and translating them into electric impulses that are further sent to the brain for interpretation.
Once these delicate inner ear hair cells are destroyed or damaged, they are irreparable, and you lose your ability to hear specific sounds. This form of hearing loss is permanent. Currently, there no treatment for sensorineural hearing loss. The only and best option available is using hearing aids.
Research on Hearing Loss Cures
Researchers across the world have been working towards finding a cure for hearing loss over the past couple of decades. Dr. Albert Edge, one of the audiological scientists, discovered a molecule that could potentially grow fresh hair cells. He had a breakthrough in restoring deafness in mice.
This shows that there is hope for the development of hair cell-regenerating treatment. Studies have shown that reptiles and birds with hearing impairments can regenerate damaged hair cells. We are hoping that these discoveries will help with treatment for deafness and hearing impairment in human beings.
Other labs are conducting research on stem cells, which are the basis for tissue growth in the body. Scientists are testing whether stem cell transplant can be an effective treatment for hearing loss.
According to Dr. Stefan Heller from Stanford University School of Medicine, stem cell therapy could restore the inner ear’s hair cells and subsequently reverse deafness or hearing loss. This research has been studying the inner pillar cells and ways of restoring damaged hair cells to cure deafness.
Alternatively, doctors are also researching the effectiveness of gene therapy in the treatment of hearing loss. Researchers have already succeeded in isolating the gene responsible for stimulating the growth of hair cells and are working on using this gene to treat hearing loss.
Breakthrough with the regeneration of hair cells will mean that sensorineural hearing loss will have found a cure. From the mentioned scientific researches, it is evident that we might have several treatment options for deafness and hearing loss in the near future.
Treating Deafness and Hearing Loss
Currently, the best approach to maintaining your hearing ability is through taking serious preventative safety precautions. However, if you have already been diagnosed with hearing loss, the only available solution is using hearing aids.
With today’s modern technology, hearing aids are designed for the best hearing clarity and maximum functionality. With most hearing aid devices, you can wirelessly connect to your smartphone, enjoy speech enhancement features for a flowless conversation following, and background noise blockage features.
Hearing loss treatment programs offer music listening and natural sound quality programs that will enable you to continue enjoying music and other sweet sounds such as sounds of nature. As we wait for a breakthrough with deafness and hearing loss treatment, you can get yourself the best hearing aid device to keep you moving.
If you have not been diagnosed with hearing loss yet, it is advisable that you protect your ears from harmful noises with the use of devices such as noise-canceling headphones, earmuffs, and earplugs.
Hearing Loss Prevention Tips
While we cannot prevent hearing loss arising from birth defects, we can take some safety precautions to lower the risk of losing your hearing ability. Here are some of the measures you can take to protect your ears:
• Do not set your audio device volumes too high. Children are more susceptible to the effects of loud music.
• Buy noise-canceling headphones that will help you focus on the sound you want to hear and block the unnecessary noise for you.
• You should get regular hearing health checkups, especially if you work in noisy places such as nightclubs.
• Wear earplugs or earmuffs when attending noisy public events such as motor racing, concerts, and drag racing.