Are there any ways to treat hearing loss and turn back the tide? Like athletes who suffer injuries, get treatment, and go through rehab until they eventually get back to where they were performance-wise (or at least close)?
Unfortunately, hearing loss is usually a lot more permanent than a sports injury. There are treatment options for some situations, but the fact is that most people lose their hearing because parts of the inner ear wear out — either as they age or when suffering exposure to excessive noise — and there is not currently any way to replace those tiny sections of the ear.
There is significant research beginning on the use of gene therapies to treat a wide range of hearing issues, but actual treatments are years away. Likewise, drug therapies are being explored — including clinical trials on treatments that seek to regrow the tiny hair cells that translate sound waves into electrical impulses to the brain — but they too are nowhere near being marketed.
In some cases of sudden hearing loss — usually, after exposure causes inflammation in the ear canal — steroid treatments, if quickly administered, can reduce the risk of permanent hearing loss.
Profound hearing issues can be treated with Cochlear implants — which surgically bypass the cochlea where those vital tiny hairs are located — but this is considered a significant procedure. Hearing aids are a required first option before Cochlear implants can be considered for adults.
A few specific conditions have corresponding procedures. Bone-anchored hearing systems (BAHAs) treat certain ear canal irregularities. A stapedectomy is the insertion of a prosthesis to replace bones in the middle ear that are vital to moving sound waves into the inner ear. Pressure equalization (PE) tubes can be inserted in cases of significant fluid buildup that is causing hearing issues.
But the reality is that most hearing loss does not have a “quick fix” other than learning to use a hearing aid to make up for issues deep inside the ear.