Experiencing any health issue, like hearing loss, usually makes you curious enough to learn more.
A common question among those with hearing problems is whether the inner ear can heal and fix itself.
The answer is no. Not on its own, or spontaneously.
Hearing Loss caused by Noise Exposure
If you have noise-related hearing loss, the only things you can - and should - do are avoid exposure to loud noises and wear hearing protection so your hearing doesn’t get worse. The stereocilia - delicate hair cells that transfer auditory information to the brain - are very fragile, just like the other parts of the ear.
Any short exposure to very loud sounds (90 decibels) may lead to temporary hearing loss. When a person is exposed to sounds that are too loud, it can flatten the auditory stereocilia. As long as you aren’t exposed to loud noises again, the hair cells can regain their shape within several days. This does not mean that they regrow. They CANNOT regrow.
Growing New Hearing Cells
There has, however, been research on the possibility of regeneration in damaged hair cells. Repairing damaged stereocilia is not possible, but there may be the possibility of growing completely new cells.
Gene therapy is one way to go about this route. Determining which genes help hair cells grow in other parts of the body, can help researchers apply that to the inner ear.
Also, there have been studies on other species - amphibians and birds - that practiced hair cell regeneration. This was discovered over 30 years ago, but the logistics of it are still unknown. Scientists have not been able to replicate it in other mammals.
More recent cases involving mice and rats have shown that it is possible to apply growth-promoting molecules or trophic factors to the inner ear.
Receiving immediate treatment for hearing loss is important for brain health, and your overall health. This may include being fitted for hearing aids. Since the jury is still out about reversing hearing loss, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
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