Can Hearing Loss be Cured? While most hearing loss cannot be cured, your hearing professional can treat it. Therefore, you should seek help as soon as you begin noticing a hearing problem. This way, you can quickly begin hearing loss treatment.
Understanding Hearing Loss
While many types of hearing difficulties are permanent, those caused by earwax or inflammation from an infection can typically be reversed with treatment. You can treat other types of loss, such as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and structural hearing loss, but not cure them. In addition, tinnitus causes permanent ringing in the ears. It is closely related to NIHL.
One of the most common types of hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss, occurs when you are exposed to loud, long-lasting sounds or briefly to sounds too loud for unprotected ears. The sounds cause damage to the inner ear’s sensitive structure. When caught early, some cases of NIHL can be reversed with treatment. A study was done by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2012. The study revealed that 10 million adults, six percent of the US population under age 70, have lost hearing in one or both ears due to NIHL.
Another type of loss, sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) happens when the inner ear’s hair cells are damaged. These tiny hair cells transmit sound from the inner ear via the ear’s hearing nerve, to the brain.
Similarly to NIHL, sometimes a doctor can catch conductive hearing loss (CHL) quickly enough to treat it with medication or surgery. In CHL, a problem occurs when transferring sound waves along the pathway through the outer ear, tympanic membrane, or middle ear. It often includes nerve damage.
Treating Hearing loss
Consequently, if hearing loss goes untreated, it can be harmful. Go to your hearing specialist and have a hearing test. They will conduct an exam to determine the cause of your hearing impairment. The first things they check for are earwax or infection as well as structural causes. Other tests include the whisper test, which tests your ability to hear spoken words at different volumes, app-based hearing tests, a tuning fork test and finally an audiometer test.
Your doctor may recommend any number of treatments. These could include:
- removing any wax
- surgical procedures to repair the eardrum or ossicles bones
- hearing aids
- cochlear implants to address more severe hearing impairment
Hearing aids amplify sounds, then direct them into your ear canal. On the other hand, cochlear implants bypass the impaired areas of the inner ear to directly stimulate the hearing nerve. An audiologist or hearing professional alone can help you with a hearing aid, but a cochlear implant requires an audiologist and a medical doctor specializing in disorders of the ears, nose, and throat (ENT).
Many types of hearing loss benefit from the use of a hearing aid. Different hearing aid technologies exist to treat hearing impairment. Talk to your hearing specialist about which would work best for you. Some different options are:
- completely in the canal (CIC)
- mini CIC
- In the canal (ITC)
- in-the-ear (ITE), full shell or half shell
- behind the ear (BTE)
- receiver-in-canal (RIC)
- receiver-in-the-ear (RITE)
- open fit
Also, some aids can have features added to them to improve their ability to clarify sound in some situations. This includes items like
- noise reduction programs
- directional microphones
- rechargeable batteries
- wireless connectivity
- remote controls
- direct audio input
- variable programming
- environmental noise control
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
Firstly, treatment and the use of hearing aids can make life a little easier. Things like carrying on a conversation become simpler. This could possibly increase your earning power. A Better Hearing Institute study states that untreated hearing loss results in reduced annual earnings of up to $30,000. Correcting hearing impairment with hearing devices reduced the risk by more than 90% for individuals with mild hearing impairment. It did the same for 77% of individuals with moderate-to-severe hearing loss.
Secondly, you will slow down your cognitive decline. Some medical studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a higher risk of dementia and a reduction in brain function. The greatest decline occurs in those who do not wear hearing instruments.
So, while the answer to the question, “can hearing loss be cured” is no, there’s no reason to let it go untreated! If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing and struggle with communication, contact us today. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help!