Happy couple with hearing restored.

 

Your Body’s Ability to Recover

The human body is a wonderful, beautiful, confusing, confounding piece of work, isn’t it? The human body generally has no problem mending cuts, scrapes, or broken bones (I mean, sure, it takes a while, but your body can literally repair the giant bones in your arms and legs with little more than some time and a splint).

But when it comes to repairing the tiny little hairs in your ear, you’re out of luck. At least, so far.

It doesn’t seem exactly fair when you can recover from significant bone injuries but have problems repairing tiny hairs in your ear. What’s going on there? (Other than your body being a bit fickle.)

When Is Hearing Loss Permanent?

So, let’s get right down to it. You’re sitting in your hearing specialist’s office and you’re absorbing the news: you have hearing loss. So the first question you ask is whether your hearing will ever come back. And the answer is… it depends.

Dramatically speaking, it’s a little anticlimactic.

But it’s also the truth. There are two basic types of hearing loss:

  • Hearing loss caused by an obstruction: When there’s something obstructing your ear canal, you can exhibit all the signs of hearing loss. This obstruction can be caused by a wide variety of things, from the gross (ear wax) to the downright scary (tumors). The good news is that once the obstruction is removed, your hearing often returns to normal.
  • Hearing loss caused by damage: But there’s another–more common–type of hearing loss. Known medically as sensorineural hearing loss, this type of hearing loss is effectively permanent. Here’s what happens: there are tiny hairs in your ear that vibrate when hit with moving air (sound waves). Your brain is good at turning these vibrations into the sounds you hear. But loud noises can cause damage to the hairs and, over time, permanently diminish your hearing.

So the bottom line is this: there’s one type of hearing loss you can recover from, and you may need to get tested to see which one you have.

Hearing Loss Treatment

So currently there’s no “cure” for sensorineural hearing loss But that’s not to say you can’t find treatment for your hearing loss. In fact, getting the right treatment for your hearing loss can help you:

  • Preserve and protect the hearing you have left.
  • Prevent cognitive decline.
  • Stay engaged socially, keeping isolation at bay.
  • Cope successfully with any of the symptoms of hearing loss you may be experiencing.
  • Ensure your overall quality of life is unaffected or remains high.

This treatment can take many forms, and it’ll usually depend on how severe your hearing loss is. One of the most common treatments is pretty simple: hearing aids.

Why Are Hearing Aids a Good Treatment for Hearing Loss?

Look, we could spend years talking about why hearing aids are a very good treatment for hearing loss. (Those years might not be the most exciting, but, hey, they would be informative.) It basically boils down to this: hearing aids can take some of the pressure off of your ears. They no longer need to strain to hear well.

And that means that those tiny little hairs in your ear catch a break. And that break means that future damage to your overall health is, at least, somewhat mitigated.

The Best Protection Is Prevention

If you take away one thing from this little lesson, I hope it’s this: you can’t count on recovering from hearing loss, so instead you should focus on protecting the hearing you’ve got. Sure, if you get something stuck in your ear canal, you can probably have it removed.

But that doesn’t mitigate the danger from loud noises–noises you might not even think are loud enough to really be all that harmful. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to take the time to protect your ears, to make sure you’re protecting your ears.

The better you protect your hearing today, the more treatment options you’ll have when and if you are eventually diagnosed with hearing loss. Recovery likely won’t be an option–but treatment can help you continue living a great, full life.

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