Future Solutions for Tinnitus and Hearing DamageJune 15, 2021
Hearing loss is a major problem in today’s world, with around half a billion people affected by it across the globe. Loss of hearing can cost us our mental and physical health, and even put us at risk of sustaining injuries due to falling. Our work productivity goes down and personal relationships suffer due to hearing loss. With so much to lose, it is important to think about lasting solutions for hearing loss as well as the ringing in the ears that we know as tinnitus.
A study published in Otology & Neurology found that 43 different companies across the globe are currently developing over 80 different forms of treatment in order to treat varying degrees of tinnitus as well as hearing loss. Some treatments require more work in order to be deemed successful, while others have shown promise.
Some forms of treatment are preventive in nature, such as avoiding ototoxic medications that have hearing loss or tinnitus as their side effects. These include some chemotherapy medication and certain types of antibiotics.
Since there is currently no known cure for hearing loss, preventive treatments aim to delay or reduce the occurrence of hearing loss that occurs due to noise or age.
The future of hearing loss looks bright, with a company in the US working on restorative treatment to regenerate hearing in those with hearing loss. These methods are still in their infancy stages since it is a monumental task to come up with alternatives to recreate the sensation of sound that is produced by hair follicles in the ear.
Restorative treatments are currently being explored in the forms of oral consumption (pills) or injections given directly into the eardrum. A few methods involve gene as well as stem cell therapies which work towards recreating healthy replicas of working hair follicles that can regenerate hearing. These therapies aim to replace damaged hair cells with healthy, functioning ones that can eradicate hearing loss. This method of treatment is still in its premature stages and has not been tested on humans yet.
The administration of cell or gene therapies is to be delivered directly into the inner ear which is where hearing loss originates. This technique requires skill and precise placement in order for the therapy to work.
Hearing loss is a big challenge for anyone who has it, which is why companies are working rigorously to develop effective, novel techniques that can restore hearing. Even though these treatment methods may take several more years to mature, they provide some much-needed hope for those suffering from hearing loss.