If you are or a loved one suffers from hearing loss, you are not alone. Approximately 48 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from hearing loss. If this is new to you, you may be wondering if there is a cure for hearing loss. This depends on the type of hearing loss that you have and how serious your hearing loss is.
Three Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is sectioned into three different types including sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.
- Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common from of hearing loss, caused by damage to the fragile tiny hair cells in your inner ear or to the nerve pathways that lead from your inner ear to the brain. This is most commonly brought on by exposure to harmful noise or advanced age, but can also be caused by head trauma, tumors or certain medications.
- Conductive hearing loss is caused when there is an interference or blockage preventing the transfer of sound waves anywhere along the pathway through the outer ear, eardrum or middle ear. This is often caused by any obstruction in the outer, middle ear or eardrum including ear infection, excess earwax, tumors, eardrum injury and more.
- Mixed hearing loss is a mix of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and must treated with a combination of strategies.
Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss
The most common type of hearing loss is age related hearing loss, which is a sensorineural hearing loss. It is common as we grow older that the fragile hairs in our inner ear become diminished and can even stop working. In fact, approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 live with age related hearing loss. Age related hearing loss and any type of sensorineural hearing loss cannot be reversed. While age related hearing loss is very common as you age it is important to not let it go untreated. When people struggle to hear enough that it’s a challenge to hold a conversation it is common to feel anxious, depressed and socially isolated. Not only that but when people can not hear their sense of independence dwindles fast making going out into the world on foot and by car much more dangerous.
Using hearing aids to treat sensorineural hearing loss
Fortunately using hearing aids to treat age related hearing loss can make a big difference in slowing the effects associated with hearing loss and keep people communicating even as they age. Hearing aids work by amplifying sound and they’ve made major advancements in the past couple of years. Hearing aids of today are prescribed to your specific hearing loss according to the results of a hearing test called an audiogram. Modern hearing aids can suppress background noise, reduce wind, pick up the nuances of music and even stream sound via Bluetooth directly to your ear. While they don’t replicate your original hearing, they really help people with mild to moderate hearing loss. The longer you go with out treating hearing loss with hearing aids the worse your hearing can become. This is why it is important to treat your hearing loss as soon as possible to prevent further hearing loss. In some cases, cochlear implants, a small, complex electronic device that sits behind the ear while a portion is surgical placed under the skin is recommended when the patients are very hard of hearing or profoundly deaf.
Treating conductive hearing loss
The good news about conductive hearing loss is that very often, depending on the cause, it can be cured. First and foremost, it is important to visit a hearing healthcare professional to deduce the cause of your hearing loss. If the results of your test reveal a blockage or injury causing conductive hearing loss you have several options depending on the cause. Ear infections are commonly cured using antibiotics. A medical professional can often flush out an impaction of earwax. It is best not to attempt to clear a blockage on your own as you can often cause more damage then before to your fragile inner ears. Many times, surgery is needed to fix your conductive hearing issue
Whatever the cause of your hearing loss it is important to treat it as soon as possible. It is up to you to visit your hearing healthcare professional so you can get the most out of your hearing.