How We Hear:
Hearing is a very complex process, involving many different parts of the body. Some may be under the impression that we hear with our ears but actually we listen with our ears and hear with our brain.
Ears are simply a way of transporting sound to our brains.
Sound enters the ear canal and causes the eardrum to vibrate. The middle ear houses three small bones that transmit the sound from middle ear to the inner ear. The inner ear (called the cochlea) is filled with fluid and lined with hair cells. These hairs move upon the vibrations and convert the sound waves into nerve impulses which are sent to the brain. The brain then decodes the audio data into useable information.
Hearing aids have the ability to improve your hearing by amplifying specifically the frequencies where your hearing is weakened. Hearing aids have limited ability to clarify if you have decreased capabilities. Since hearing aids are sophisticated amplifiers, these devices tend to amplify voices more and background noises less. Although hearing aids will not fully duplicate normal hearing, your ability to discriminate sounds will be improved and allow you to hear with greater ease.
TYPES OF HEARING LOSS:
The Outer Ear
- The most common problem that may lead to a decrease in hearing is because of a wax build up or infection in the ear canal.
The Middle Ear
- There are many problems that may limit the ability of the middle ear to function properly, including a perforation in the eardrum, an infection or fluid in the middle ear. When the middle ear is affected and hearing loss occurs it is called conductive hearing loss.
- Many outer and middle ear issues can be treated by a doctor. In cases where treatment is not possible or effective, the remaining hearing loss is usually helped with a hearing aid.
The Inner Ear
- Most common type of actual hearing loss is called Sensorineural Hearing Loss. This refers to damage in the inner ear. Typical causes include the natural aging process, excessive exposure to noise, medications, medical treatments, physical trauma, and disease.
- This type of hearing loss can be improved with the use of a hearing aid.
SIGNS OF HEARING LOSS:
- People seem to mumble.
- Television or radio needs to be turned up.
- Having difficulty hearing the door bell or telephone.
- Finding it difficult to hear women’s and children’s voices.
- Experiencing difficulty hearing in social occasions, family gatherings, or crowded restaurants.
- Others begin noticing a decrease in your ability to hear and discriminate sounds.
If you have answered “yes” to one or more of the above statements, you should seek further testing and the advice of a hearing care professional.
Remember, the sooner you diagnose and treat hearing loss, the sooner you can stop degeneration as it will get worse if left untreated.