The short answer is: No. There is no known hearing loss cure available mainstream, but the future is looking brighter every day as researchers search for a solution.
Why Isn’t There a Hearing Loss Cure?
Since there are a few different causes and kinds of hearing loss, it is difficult to come up with a single cure.
One common cause of hearing loss is damage to the hearing nerves, also known as the outer hair cells. Outer hair cells are unusual because unlike other cells in our body, they do not regrow or repair themselves.
Scientists must address a complicated issue. They need to create technologies capable of mimicing auditory nerves or repairing or replacing them once damaged.
Currently, all hearing loss cure research has been done on mice and birds instead of human hair cells. To gain more information, researchers need to move beyond small animals and focus on the human body.
Age-related changes that human ears undergo also present a challenge to researchers. This is because the ear continues to change and develop over the years.
Hearing loss can also be due to genetic disorders. People are born with hearing loss. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to detect hearing loss in utero.
Once a person is born with congenital hearing loss, it is already too late (unlike noise-induced hearing loss, which can be avoided). Damaged bones cause hearing loss. While they’re remedied with surgical intervention, they don’t always return to prior function. For the most part, there is no cure. That is —yet.
A Solution for Hearing Loss: Looking Towards the Future
Hearing loss is a prevalent problem in the United States and around the world. As such, there are a number of organizations dedicated to finding a solution for hearing loss.
The Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss (SICHL) is part of the Stanford School of Medicine. The SICHL states that “the goal of SICHL is to devise treatment that repairs the damaged inner ear and restore loss of hearing, quiet tinnitus, and improve balance.”
They concentrate on four key areas of research. These areas include stem cell therapy, gene therapy, molecular therapy, and targeted neural stimulation.
Stem cell therapy explores the possibility of repairing damaged cells and growing new skin cells.
Research into genetic hearing loss has shown that the majority of hearing loss is caused by a mutation in only three genes, which gene therapy intends to target.
Molecular therapy looks into utilizing drugs as a cure for hearing loss.
Targeted neural stimulation aims to use auditory nerves to improve hearing clarity and loudness.
Researchers at the department of otolaryngology at Columbia University Medical Center are also working hard to develop a hearing loss cure.
Scientists there are using gene therapy to combat genetic hearing loss, which could mean that children born with hearing loss will be able to hear.
Researchers are also studying cochlear bone development to learn more about conditions that cause hearing loss due to defective bone development.
Currently, hearing aids and cochlear implants are the best treatments for hearing loss. While there is no cure yet, the vigorous research being done by leading scientists across the country makes us hopeful that one day the world will see a cure for hearing loss!
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