Finding out you have a hearing loss can be an emotional experience. Whether your hearing loss is new or you?ve only recently learned the scope of it, you may be frustrated and looking for answers. And one of the biggest answers you might want is for an obvious question: Can hearing loss be reversed?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is complicated. But that doesn?t mean that there isn?t help or hope available. The first step to answering this question is to understand what hearing loss is and the different ways it can appear. So let?s dive in and learn a little more about hearing loss.
What is hearing loss?
?Can hearing loss be reversed?? is probably one of the most common questions we hear in evaluations with our new patients, in one form or another. The fact is, hearing loss comes in many forms – every person with hearing loss experiences it a little bit differently. But simply put, a hearing loss is any kind of reduced level of hearing in one or both ears.
One of the reasons everyone has a different experience of hearing loss is because there isn?t a single cause. In fact, there are three different types of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural, which stems from damaged or malfunctioning parts in your inner ear
- Conductive, which is caused by problems with the parts of your middle and outer ear
- Mixed, a combination of the other two types resulting in a greater hearing loss
There are a number of causes that may result in one of these three types of hearing loss. For example, sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by aging, noise damage, certain medications, or disease. The causes of conductive hearing loss may be even more varied, from burst eardrums or foreign objects in the ear canal to the ear canal narrowing (stenosis) or the growth of bony protrusions (exostoses).
So can hearing loss be reversed?
The real answer is this: It depends. Just as there are many factors that might lead to your hearing loss, there are also many different forms of treatment. But just because there are treatments available for your hearing loss doesn?t mean there is a cure.
Some forms of hearing loss, particularly conductive hearing loss, can be reversed – and sometimes rather easily. For example, if you suffer from wax impaction, your audiologist can safely remove the wax from your ear, restoring your normal hearing ability. Other examples may require surgery or medication. Audiologists consider conductive hearing loss to be the least permanent hearing loss condition.
Sensorineural hearing loss is a different story. Your ability to hear comes from tiny hair cells deep within your inner ear. Through aging, certain illnesses and medications, loud or extended noise, or injuries, these hair cells or the auditory nerve they?re attached to can degrade or become damaged. When that happens, they can?t heal themselves or be surgically repaired. When they?re gone, they?re gone.
If my hearing loss can?t be reversed, what do I do?
At present, there is no medically proven way to cure sensorineural hearing loss. But that doesn?t mean you should lose hope: there are still many treatment options available! Today?s hearing aids are more advanced than ever and come with all kinds of features that can improve your quality of life.
Hearing aids can?t permanently restore your hearing ability, but they will allow you to hear the world around you again. Treating hearing loss with hearing aids comes with other benefits, too, including a decreased risk of cognitive decline and depression.
By now you?re probably wondering, can my particular form of hearing loss be reversed? If you think you may be experiencing a hearing loss, schedule an evaluation at The Hill Hear Better Clinic. We?ll measure and help you understand your hearing loss and find a treatment plan that works for you!