by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote:
In May of 2004, while watching a Law & Order program on TV, I lost the hearing in my left ear. It was replaced by ringing, various other noises and about one week of vertigo.
After many tests and a long regimen of Prednisone, my doctor basically told me my hearing loss was permanent and I could get a hearing aid to assist with what little hearing I have left. The problem is I was born deaf in my right ear.
My question is, Isn’t there anyone who has advanced the treatment for this condition? Am I destined for complete deafness and a cochlear implant?
Unfortunately, the kind of hearing loss you experienced is the result of the tiny hair cells in your inner ear dying. These hair cells are critical to hearing as they pass the sound signals from your inner ear to the auditory nerve which in turn sends them to your brain. When some of these hair cells die, there is no way to get those sound signals into the auditory nerve, so you don’t hear those frequencies of sound anymore. If all the hair cells die, you are left totally deaf.
What you want is a miracle–bringing dead cells to life again. Only God can do that–if He so chooses.
However, researchers are busy trying to discover if there is a way to regenerate hair cells in humans. Hair cell regeneration occurs naturally in some animals and birds. Unfortunately, for humans, hair cell regeneration is still a ways off–at least 20 years or so, if it ever happens.
You can read the present state of hair cell regeneration research in the following two articles, “Hair Cell Regeneration—Looking Beyond the Hype” and “Hair Cell Regeneration—Overcoming the Challenges.”
Since your hearing has stabilized, I don’t think that you are necessarily destined for complete deafness. Permanent hearing loss–yes. Complete deafness–not necessarily. It really depends on the cause of your sudden hearing loss.
For example, if you had a viral attack and never get another one, your hearing shouldn’t change much in the next 20 years. Ditto, if you had a mini-blood clot in an artery leading to your inner ear.
If wearing a hearing aid in your better ear doesn’t really help you hear, then you are likely a candidate for a cochlear implant. Cochlear implants work because they effectively bypass the dead hair cells and directly stimulate the auditory nerve so you can hear again.
Although hearing with cochlear implants is not “normal,” I know hundreds of people that are very happy with their cochlear implants. They tell me that their cochlear implants have given them back their lives again! This very likely could be your experience too. Thus, I strongly suggest you investigate getting a cochlear implant if you are eligible for one.