Hearing loss affects one in eight people aged 12 years or older in the United States. It can be caused by a variety of reasons, like aging, exposure to loud sounds, ototoxic medications, or excessive earwax. And though there is no cure for hearing loss, there are tried and true strategies that greatly improve one’s ability to hear, like hearing aids or cochlear implants. One other treatment that is in its early stages of development is the “Hearing Loss Pill”, NHPN-1010. And while researchers are still in the midst of their discovery phase, it does seem to show some promise. Can you imagine being able to take a pill and have your hearing improve? It might just become a reality one day.
What is the “hearing loss pill”?
To understand the promise behind NHPN-1010, it’s important to refresh our memories of how hearing works and hearing loss can be caused. Our ability to hear is directly linked to sensory hair cells within the inner ear. These tiny hair cells react to sound waves and create electrical signals that are sent to our brains through auditory nerve fibers allowing our brains to perceive sound. Damage or loss of these sensory hair cells can negatively impact our hearing, sometimes permanently.
NHPN-1010 uses small molecules and nucleic acids to counteract hearing loss by directly targeting the tiny hair cells in the ear. This combination of molecules and acids works with supporting cells within the inner ear to help regenerate any lost sensory hair cells. This medication is capable of restoring hair cell numbers in noise-damaged rodents and has even been shown to restore hearing in mature, noise-deafened guinea pigs. A great start!
At the moment, NHPN-1010 has successfully completed single and multi-dose Phase I clinical trials for the treatment of acute noise-induced hearing loss, but there’s still a long way to go. Phase II of the clinical trial is under development at the moment, so be sure to check back in for updates. In fact, they are also currently studying the use of NHPN-1010 for the treatment of tinnitus, so there’s a lot of potential, and hopefully, good news to look forward to.
Coping With Hearing Loss
When it comes to hearing loss, the important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Though it can be frustrating and sometimes isolating, there are ways for you to cope, the first one being to let people know! Be sure the people you interact with the most know what’s going on, as that will empower them to make changes in their behavior to communicate more clearly with you. That includes friends and family, of course, but also people in the community who you interact with often, like cashiers or your neighborhood postal worker.
Hand in hand with letting people know is getting medical help. Hearing loss should not be self-diagnosed and not ignored. Having an audiologist diagnose your hearing loss will help you get the treatment you need, and could greatly improve how severely your hearing loss impacts your day-to-day.
Another way to be proactive about your hearing loss is to join support groups. Whether online or face-to-face, joining a community of others experiencing the same difficulties as you can give you a much-needed outlet for frustration, while finding the support you can’t get from friends or family who don’t understand what you’re going through. While it’s not a cure for hearing loss, fostering relationships with those who can connect with you on the specifics can go a long way in helping you feel supported.
Tried and Tested Ways to Manage and Treat Hearing Loss
While the promise of curing hearing loss with something like the NHPN-1010 hearing loss pill is intoxicating, it’s not a reality, at least not yet. But the good news is there are strategies out there that work and have worked for decades. They are, of course, hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Hearing aids are devices placed in your ear, that work by identifying, collecting, and picking up sounds from the environment and changing them into electrical signals. The sounds are then amplified, converted into sound waves, and delivered to the ears to help you hear.
Cochlear implants are composed of two parts, an external portion that sits behind the ear, and a surgically implanted portion in the inner ear. Sounds are picked up by the outer device and transferred to the implant as an electrical signal. The electrical signal is then sent to the cochlea, which sends them to the brain, giving you the sensation of sound.
Neither of these devices is available over the counter. In order to find the best treatment option for yourself, you need to start by seeing an audiologist. An audiologist will perform a variety of hearing tests to see what kind of hearing loss you have, and from there determine the best treatment option, whether it is hearing aids, cochlear implants, or something else.
The Hearing Loss pill, NHPN-1010, might be able to help people with acute noise-induced hearing loss, but that has yet to be proven and only covers one of many kinds of hearing loss. For those suffering from hearing loss due to aging, ototoxic medications, or excessive earwax, the tried and true methods we have today are your best bet.
If you are experiencing hearing loss, do not ignore it. The first step in your hearing health journey is to visit an audiologist. Only they can properly test and diagnose what is happening to create the treatment option best suited for your needs.