Anyone who’s dealing with the realization that their ability to hear isn’t what it once was would like to find a cure, the metaphoric “magic bullet” that will make things better.
Unfortunately for the vast majority of people it doesn’t — at least not yet — work that way. The most likely cause for hearing loss is aging and the biologically driven weakening of the complex mechanisms of the ear (especially the tiny hairs of the cochlear). Exposure to extreme sound events can also cause permanent damage.
This is known as sensorineural hearing loss, which causes more than 90 percent of hearing issues for adults. As the webpage of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) states:” This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. Most of the time, medicine or surgery cannot fix SNHL. Hearing aids may help you hear.”
And the sad fact is that once damaged, most parts of the ear can’t be repaired with drug treatments or surgery.
Is there hope on the horizon? Yes. But it’s still a possibility for the future, not a current reality.
There are drugs in development that, it is hoped, will coax the tiny hairs of the inner ear — which are the transition point for sound waves being turned into electrical impulses that can be interpreted by the brain — to regrow, which they cannot do naturally. Hair tonic for the cochlear. One such product is even in Phase 2 trials, meaning a small number of people of being treated to test efficacy.
There is also significant research in the use of gene therapy to treat hearing loss. Such treatments seek to “reprogram” genetic sequences in the body to treat or cure conditions. Dealing with congenital hearing loss issues and “teaching” hairs in the cochlea to regrow are definitely areas of research in this promising field, but practical treatments are years away.
For now, most hearing loss issues will require embracing the old-fashioned — though now digitally driven — hearing aid.