When hearing loss affects you or someone you love, you may wonder what can possibly be done to correct or treat the issue. Many people feel that hearing loss is a process that cannot be reversed or fixed, especially if a person is deaf or suffers from hearing loss at an early age. However, their are options available through the help of audiologists and other medical professionals that are currently used and in development to help treat and correct hearing loss. Get to know some of these options so that you and the people you love can experience the benefits of such treatment options.
Current Treatment: Cochlear Implants
Cochlear implants are one of the few permanent solutions to profound hearing loss and deafness available currently. While many people think that hearing aids are the only way to restore any hearing function for people who are struggling, cochlear implants can help those people with hearing loss so severe that even hearing aids do not do the trick.
A cochlear implant is a surgically installed device that is placed in the brain. It is an electronic device designed specifically to help sense sound stimuli and then transmit the data to the brain to be interpreted as sound. Essentially, the implant does the job of the cochlea in the ears that are meant to receive sounds.
The cochlear implant reads the sounds as electrical impulses and translates them to be signals the brain can understand. Cochlear implants can make a person who is even profoundly deaf (that cannot hear any sound at all) hear. However, it is not the same as "natural" hearing in that not all sounds can be received and translated by the device at once.
Also, once installed, a cochlear implant cannot be removed. Because of this, it is vital to be certain about your decision before going through with the surgery.
Future Treatment: Genetic Modifications
Scientists and doctors are constantly trying to understand the root causes of hearing loss and deafness, particularly the factors that are genetic in nature (rather than environmental or lifestyle-related). Recent research is pointing to a potential future for the treatment of hearing loss and that future may be genetic modification.
A new study in mice has shown that a defect in specific cells in the ear may be one of the causes of hearing loss. The tiny hair cells in the ear (a specific type of mitochondria) are responsible for sensing sounds and sending them on to the brain to be "heard." A genetic protein defect in those cells result in the cells not functioning and therefore causing hearing loss.
Scientists believe that the mitochondria in human ears work similarly and could point to a genetic treatment for deafness. If they can figure out a way to correct the defect to either prevent cell deterioration or promote cell growth in the ear, they may be able to treat hearing loss in a new and unique way. While this will still require extensive testing and research, the new information sheds light on the way that hearing loss and deafness work on a genetic level and can change the future of treatments.
Now that you know about some of the current and potential future treatments for hearing loss and deafness, you can better handle any hearing loss that affects you or your family. To learn more, speak with an audiologist, like those at Hearing Center Of Hawaii.Share
12 November 2015
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