Which is the Future in Hearing Loss Treatment?
People are constantly exposed to noise and are surely overexposed at times. City traffic and loud music are common for everybody, and other exposure categories must also be considered. Ear protection is not always used because workers find it uncomfortable, and the reduction in hearing capacity can be dangerous.
The hypothesis is that over the next 25 years, 95% of the population over 70 years old will be affected by hearing loss. Life expectancy will increase to 90 years over the next few decades, and solving the hearing loss problem will become ever more important.
Hearing aids are useful, but they do not physiologically correct hearing. The increase in volume that they provide is only palliative. Bone-anchored prostheses could be helpful, but at this time, they are indicated only in cases of transmissive and mixed hearing loss. They cannot be used to treat sensoneuronal hearing loss.
Several studies address developing a genetic technique to restore lost hair cells. This technique could be used to regenerate the cells needed to treat hearing loss. Studies have also been conducted to discover new protective drugs and vitamins that
can fight against neuronal degeneration.
Some authors have investigated the role of diet in increasing the risk for hearing loss or the ability of some lifestyles and habits to protect hearing. In the future, we will likely be able to identify the best treatment for each patient by studying his DNA.
We must keep in mind not only the social importance of hearing loss, but also its influence in increasing the risk for dementia in the elderly. In the future, we risk having not only a hearing-impaired population but also an elderly population with important mental problems.
Otolaryngol Open J. 2016; SE(3): Se1-Se2. doi: 10.17140/OTLOJ-SE-3-e001