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  • Writer's pictureWidex Emirates Hearing Care

Will Hearing Loss Ever Be Cured?

hearing loss

Hearing loss is a common and widespread problem that people are facing nowadays. It often starts from birth, develops with age or is caused by several reasons, mainly because of repeated and continual exposure to loud noises. It can occur suddenly or can develop gradually with time. It can be classified as mild, moderate, severe or profound hearing loss.

Hearing loss can be temporary when the person experiences ear infection or excessive ear wax or gets exposed to loud noise. It can be permanent once the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged. They cannot be repaired or regenerated again, and you will not be able to hear specific sounds again. No drugs or medicine are existing to treat hearing loss at the moment. Curing it naturally will not be possible but restoring it through intervention is required. The future seems promising as researchers are searching for solutions to cure it or stop it. The good news now is it can be magnificently addressed and managed so you can lead a normal life.

Causes of hearing loss

Damage to the hearing nerves or the outer hair cells is a common cause. Age, stress and frequent noise exposure such as gunfire, firearms, motorcycles, jet engines, loud machinery, and loud music can be another cause. Occupational noises such as farming, carpentry, construction work, and factory work can lead to hearing loss causes.

History of smoking or any family history of genetic disorder with hearing loss might affect hearing. Heart diseases, diabetes, medications, trauma or head injuries, and certain illnesses like dementia, meningitis and inflammation of the spinal fluid can also be leading factors to hearing loss.

Types of hearing loss

Hearing loss is the effect of sound signals not reaching your brain. There are three types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive or mixed hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is when sensitive hair cells are damaged inside the inner ear or when the auditory nerves are damaged. It is the most common type, and it is permanent. Viral or bacterial illnesses, aging, continuous exposure to loud and high sounds, genetic factors, head traumas and medications are all risk factors that could lead to sensorineural hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss is when sounds are not able to reach the inner ear due to earwax blockages, fluids from ear infections, perforated eardrums, allergies, benign tumors or disorder of bones. It is less common and can be temporary or permanent.

Mixed hearing loss is when the person has both types.

In addition to these three types, there are different categories of hearing loss. We have age-related hearing loss as we get older. We have noise-induced hearing loss when exposed to noise. The more you listen to loud sounds, the more you are vulnerable to damage your hearing. There is hearing loss in one ear, unilateral hearing loss, or bilateral hearing loss which is caused to both ears. There is sudden hearing loss or progressive one where it starts getting worse over time.

Signs of hearing loss

There are many signs that can show hearing loss has started. Hearing other people clearly becomes difficult and sufferers feel they are doing extra effort to understand what is being said to them. They ask people to repeat themselves several times. They feel the need to listen to music or watch television with the volume turned up louder than other people. They start to avoid social situations they once used to enjoy. They feel exhausted at the end of the day after listening to others. They suffer from tinnitus, ringing or buzzing sounds in the ears.

Checking with your general practitioner becomes a must when facing these issues or when losing hearing suddenly in one or both ears. The general practitioner or GP can check these problems and refer you to an audiologist, or hearing specialist, who will take it from there. They will identify the cause and the type of hearing loss and they build a treatment plan based on your needs. To do that, a hearing test is done which determines what type of hearing loss you suffer from and to what extent.

It is not continually possible to prevent or stop hearing loss. However, there are numerous precautions you can do. Not listening to music or television at loud volume is a must. Using ear protectors such as earplugs, headphones or earmuffs in noisy situations is also a must. These devices cover the entire ear to lock loud noises.

The way we can treat hearing loss depends on the cause and how severe and critical it is. Conductive hearing loss is usually temporary and can be cured with medications or minor surgeries. In case of sensorineural hearing loss, there are some options that aid the patient to hear and communicate more. Untreated hearing loss leads to isolation, anxiety and depression. Treating hearing loss begins with accepting it and finding ways to live with it. This enriches your mood, happiness and quality of life. Some of these solutions include:

1. Using digital hearing aids

Hearing aids are beyond a doubt the most common treatment for hearing loss. They are not exactly the same as your original hearing, but they help train your brain to hear the sounds it has lost due to the damage in the inner ear. They are small electronic devices you wear in or behind your ear. They amplify the sounds your ear picks up. You could hear better if you chose the right type, of course with the help of your audiologist. They help you integrate with Bluetooth and other technologies so you can engage in all social relationships.

2. Removing wax blockage through suction tools

Patients using hearing aids should have their ear canal examined every 3 to 6 months to prevent excess wax to build. Build-up of earwax can block the ear canal, leading to a temporary hearing loss and can be the reason to outer infections of the ear. It causes irritation, pain and/or ringing in the ears, dizziness and other problems.

3. Bone conduction and middle ear implants

Both require surgery and an electronic device implanted either behind the ear or in the middle ear cavity. They are an option when the patient can’t wear conventional hearing aids. They are useful for those with ear abnormalities like bony growth in the ear canal or birth ear abnormalities. They help those with conductive or mixed hearing loss. The bone conduction implant operates by bypassing the ear parts that are not working or damaged in the outer or middle ear.

4. Antibiotic medications

Many medications and life-saving antibiotics have negative side effects and can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss on the long run. Some could cause sudden hearing loss or balance problems. They cause damage to the structure of the inner ear. That is why these medications are considered “ototoxic”.

5. Cochlear implants

They are surgeries done to adults and more commonly children who have little or no hearing, basically those with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. This is considered though when the patient has tried hearing aids without any success. These devices aim at converting sound into electrical impulses, bypassing the entire ear and delivering it to the auditory nerves.

6. Assistive listening devices

From the term itself, these devices “assist” the patient with hearing loss to hear better. They can be used with hearing aids or cochlear implants to aid the patient hear certain sounds in an amplified way. Telephone amplifiers, television compatible devices, hearing aid compatible smartphones, and alerting devices improve the ability to hear in situations where patients are not able to distinguish speech in noisy and loud environments. They connect to different devices, making it easier to communicate and hear. They are like extra accessories or tools that increase sound volume and make the speaker’s voice clearer whether in noisy places or rooms that echo.

Hearing is one of the most significant senses we have. It keeps us connected to our loved ones and our surrounding. Don’t keep it untreated so you can enjoy life with all its healthy sounds. Accepting the fact that it happened is a crucial step in order to continue and search for solutions.

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