Reversing hearing loss
Hearing loss can be traumatic. Different people have different reactions to hearing loss. For many it can result in social, psychological, and physical problems. If you’re losing or have lost your hearing, it’s understandable to question whether you can reverse hearing loss.
In many cases, you can. We’ll tell you about the three main types of hearing loss and what, if anything, can be done to regain part or all of your hearing.
There are three main types of hearing loss:
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. It’s permanent loss caused by damage to your auditory nerve or the cilia, which are tiny hairlike cells in your inner ear. Meniere’s disease can cause sensorineural hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss
Less common than sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss is caused by an obstruction or damage to your outer or middle ear that inhibits sound from being conducted to your inner ear.
With conductive hearing loss, your inner ear and auditory nerve are undamaged. Depending on the cause, conductive hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. Causes can run from wax impaction to a traumatic break in the connection between the bones of the middle ear.
Mixed hearing loss
Sometimes hearing loss can be the result of a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. For example, your sensorineural hearing loss might be complicated by wax impaction. This is called mixed hearing loss.
Reversing sensorineural hearing loss
Once damaged, your auditory nerve and cilia cannot be repaired. But, depending on the severity of the damage, sensorineural hearing loss has been successfully treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants. There is, however, the possibility that your hearing loss isn’t reversible.
A cochlear implant bypasses the injured or damaged portion of the auditory system and directly stimulates your auditory nerve. With a cochlear implant, many people — even those with severe sensorineural hearing loss — have been able to reverse hearing loss partially.
Reversing conductive hearing loss
Depending on the nature and extent of the problem, people with conductive hearing loss can get some or even most of their hearing back. However, not everyone can reverse or regain their hearing loss.
Often, hearing can be fully restored by addressing what may be causing blockages, such as:
Wax and foreign objects can be removed, sometimes noninvasively. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. Growths can be surgically removed.
Your doctor might not be able to medically restore your hearing if you have conductive hearing loss caused by abnormalities such as:
- stenosis of the ear canal, which is when your ear canal is abnormally narrow
- exostoses, or the thickening of the bone surrounding your ear canal
- otosclerosis, the abnormal bone growth around the stapes bone in your middle ear
- ossicular chain discontinuity, or the abnormal separation of the middle ear bones: malleus, incus, and stapes
Although the medical options are limited, your doctor might offer solutions such as:
- traditional hearing aids
- bone-conduction hearing aids
- bone-anchored implantable devices
- middle ear implants
Reversing mixed hearing loss
For mixed hearing loss, treatment decisions will be made based on the specific sensorineural and conductive hearing loss conditions you’re dealing with. Your doctor might recommend treating either the sensorineural or conductive hearing loss or both.
Although there’s little clinical research to support home treatments for hearing loss reversal, there are many advocates for natural remedies.
Keep in mind that the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your doctor before you begin using essential oils and use caution when choosing a quality brand. You should also always do a test patch before using.
Supporters of natural healing recommend drinking ginger tea. To make your own, boil the following in a covered pot for 15 minutes:
- 4 cups water
- 3 slices fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon cilantro
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- 1 tablespoon sage
After boiling, strain and drink three cups a day for a minimum of three weeks.
Ginkgo biloba extract
Ginkgo biloba extract is a favorite of natural healers. Advocates of this type of treatment suggest that taking 60 to 240 milligrams of ginkgo biloba per day can help with tinnitus and other noise associated with hearing loss.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is believed by many to positively treat hearing loss and deafness. You should use this remedy with caution and be sure to mention it to your doctor before attempting. You can mix and then heat:
- 3 drops tea tree oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon colloidal vinegar
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
You can then place the mixture into your ears and sit still for five minutes. Proponents claim that if you do this four times per day, you’ll see results after two days.
Cajeput essential oil
Some believers of natural treatment suggest cajeput essential oil can reverse hearing loss naturally. Massage a few drops of cajeput essential oil behind and in front of your ears to improve your ability to hear.
Hearing loss has three main types and can potentially be reversed. The first step in investigating a treatment to restore your hearing is to speak with your doctor. They might suggest you meet with an otolaryngologist (ENT) who specializes in the ear, nose, throat, and neck.
Your doctor or your ENT can diagnose what kind of hearing loss you have. They can give you suggestions for effective treatment options for your condition. If you decide to try a home remedy to reverse hearing loss naturally, you should discuss it with your doctor to make sure it’s appropriate for you.
If your hearing loss is irreversible, you can find support from resources for the hearing impaired and deaf communities.