Can medical cannabis help with the symptoms of hearing loss? Find out more below.
What is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is the partial or complete inability to hear sound in one or both ears. It can occur at any age and can be temporary or permanent.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 5% of the world’s population, or 466 million people, have disabling hearing loss. This number is expected to increase to 630 million by 2030 and 900 million by 2050.
Hearing loss can affect humans in several ways, including:
- Communication: Hearing loss can make it challenging to communicate with others, especially in noisy environments. This can lead to social isolation and affect personal and professional relationships.
- Emotional well-being: Hearing loss can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and depression. It can also affect self-esteem and confidence.
- Cognitive function: There is evidence that untreated hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline, including memory loss and reduced concentration ability.
- Safety: Hearing loss can also affect safety, particularly when hearing warning signals or approaching vehicles.
What causes Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss has several causes, including genetics, aging, exposure to loud noises, infections, and certain medications. Treatment options depend on the cause and severity of the hearing loss and may include hearing aids, cochlear implants, or medicine.
- Aging: Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is a gradual decline in hearing that affects most people as they age. It is usually caused by damage to the inner ear over time.
- Noise exposure: Exposure to loud noises, such as those from machinery, power tools, firearms, and loud music, can damage the hair cells in the inner ear and lead to hearing loss.
- Genetics: Inherited genetic mutations can cause hearing loss. Some genetic conditions that can cause hearing loss include Waardenburg syndrome, Usher syndrome, and otosclerosis.
- Ototoxic medications: Some can damage the inner ear and lead to hearing loss. These include certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and loop diuretics.
- Infections: Certain infections, such as meningitis, measles, mumps, and rubella, can cause hearing loss.
- Trauma: Head injuries, skull fractures, and exposure to sudden loud noises can cause hearing loss.
- Earwax buildup: Earwax can block the ear canal and lead to hearing loss.
- Tumors: Benign or cancerous tumors can grow in the ear or on the auditory nerve and cause hearing loss.
It’s important to note that some of these causes of hearing loss are preventable. For example, wearing ear protection when exposed to loud noises, getting regular hearing screenings, and avoiding using cotton swabs to clean the ears can help prevent hearing loss.
Are there Signs & Symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms:
- Muffling of sounds: This is when sounds are not as easy to understand as they used to be. It may feel like hearing people talking through a wall or underwater.
- Difficulty understanding speech: You may need help understanding what people say, especially in noisy environments. This can lead to misunderstandings or difficulty following conversations.
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus): Tinnitus is a common symptom of hearing loss. It can be a ringing, buzzing, or hissing sound in one or both ears that are not coming from an external source.
- Social isolation: Hearing loss can make it challenging to communicate with others, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Fatigue or stress: Trying to listen harder to compensate for hearing loss can be exhausting and lead to stress and fatigue.
- Increased volume: You may turn up the volume on the television, radio, or other devices to hear better.
- Avoiding social situations: People with hearing loss may avoid social situations or stop participating in activities they used to enjoy because they find it challenging to communicate with others.
If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, seeking medical attention from an audiologist or healthcare professional is essential. They can diagnose the cause of your hearing loss and recommend appropriate treatment options.
Diagnosis & Treatment Options
Hearing loss is typically diagnosed through hearing tests and medical evaluations. Here are some common diagnostic and treatment options:
- Hearing tests: A hearing test, also known as an audiogram, can measure the level of hearing loss and determine which frequencies are affected. This can help diagnose the cause and severity of hearing loss.
- Medical evaluation: If hearing loss is suspected, a medical evaluation may be recommended to identify any underlying medical conditions that could be causing the hearing loss.
- Treatment options: The treatment for hearing loss depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Treatment options may include:
- Hearing aids: Hearing aids are small electronic devices that amplify sounds to help people with hearing loss hear better. They can be custom-fit to the individual’s ear and come in various styles and technology levels.
- Cochlear implants: A cochlear implant may be an option for people with severe or profound hearing loss. A cochlear implant is a small electronic device surgically implanted in the inner ear and directly stimulates the auditory nerve.
- Medications: If an infection or inflammation causes hearing loss, medications may be prescribed to treat the underlying condition.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be recommended to correct a structural issue in the ear causing hearing loss.
- Assistive listening devices: In addition to hearing aids and cochlear implants, other assistive listening devices can help people with hearing loss communicate better, such as captioned telephones, FM systems, and sound amplifiers.
Can medical cannabis help?
While medical marijuana is known to have potential benefits for various health conditions, its effectiveness in treating hearing loss is not well established. There is currently no evidence that medical marijuana can effectively treat hearing loss or improve hearing function. However, it can help with pain, anxiety, inflammation, depression, and other symptoms of hearing loss.
The use of medical marijuana for any health condition should be discussed with a healthcare professional, and the potential benefits and risks should be carefully weighed. In addition, laws surrounding the use of medical marijuana vary by state and country, and patients should be aware of the legal implications before using it as a treatment option.
Last Updated: March 9, 2023
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