Here, you’ll find facts about hearing health and hearing loss. Our goal is to educate you about hearing loss, how to avoid it if still possible, and help you figure out whether you or a loved one might already be showing symptoms without realizing it. Even if you have lost some hearing, we have many hearing solutions that can help restore life’s beautiful sounds. Get started now on the path to hearing health.
How do we hear?
How do we hear sound? Here is a quick overview of how our ears work:
Known as the pinna or auricle, this visible portion of the ear gathers sounds from the surrounding environment and sends it down the ear canal.
The vibration of the tympanic membrane (eardrum) transmits sound to the inner ear through three small bones (malleus, incus and stapes) that carry sound to the inner ear.
Made up of two main parts: the cochlea, a system of complex hair cells (sensory cells) and the vestibular system that sends sound to the brain for final processing.
Types of hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss
This type of hearing loss involves deterioration of the inner ear. The tiny hairs that line the ear passage and which carry sound have been damaged. This type of hearing loss is most commonly caused by prolonged exposure to high volume levels, bacterial and viral infections, fluid build-up, sudden trauma to the ear, and the normal aging process. Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be treated with medication or surgery — hearing aids are the only way to treat this permanent condition.
Noise-Induced hearing loss
This type of hearing loss can affect anyone at any age. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is caused by exposure to loud sounds that damages or destroys the hair cells in your inner ear. NIHL can result from a single exposure to an extremely loud impulse sound (e.g., a shotgun blast close to your unprotected ears) or regular exposure over time to sounds exceeding 85 decibels (dB). Examples of how NIHL may occur over time include listening to music turned up to maximum volume through earbuds or working with construction machinery without wearing hearing protection.
Conductive hearing loss
This type of hearing loss occurs when the inner ear does not properly receive sound signals. It can be caused by injury to the middle ear or ear canal, fluid build-up behind the eardrum, or excessive earwax. Conductive hearing loss can usually be treated medically. If surgery or medication is not an option for you, hearing aids can be an excellent solution to your hearing problem.
Sudden hearing loss
Hearing loss usually comes on gradually due to age (presbycusis) or NIHL taking their toll. However, certain conditions can cause sudden hearing loss, including exposure to an extremely loud sound that causes immediate damage, certain diseases, tumor, head injury, or use of ototoxic (“ear poisoning”) drugs. In most cases, hearing will return over time, either on its own or through medical intervention, but for some the hearing loss may be permanent.
Signs of hearing loss.
Signs of hearing loss can take years to develop or they may show up very suddenly. Either way, they can make everyday life more difficult. If you answer yes to any of the questions below, you could be exhibiting hearing loss symptoms.
Contact a hearing health professional in your area for more information.
- Require frequent repetition of words?
- Have difficulty following conversations involving more than two people?
- Think others sound muffled or like they’re mumbling?
- Have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms?
- Have trouble hearing children and/or women?
- Have the TV or radio turned up to a high volume?
- Answer or respond inappropriately in conversations?
- Have ringing in the ears?
- Read lips or more intently watch people’s faces when they speak?
- Feel stressed from straining to hear what others are saying?
- Feel annoyed at other people because you cannot hear or understand them?
- Withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing?
- Have a family history of hearing loss?
- Take medications that can harm hearing?
- Have diabetes, heart, circulation, or thyroid problems?
- Recall exposure to very loud sounds over a long period or a single exposure to explosive noise?
How do hearing aids work?
Wondering how hearing aids work? Several key configurations enable you to hear better while wearing them:
- Incoming sound
- Hearing aid
- Microphone: Picks up sound waves
- Circuit: Changes the sound waves into an electrical signal and modifies it based upon
computer data provided by the hearing health professional. The circuit is manipulated by sophisticated software to do the following:
- Detect feedback and virtually eliminate it
- Reduce harsh effects of loud sounds
- Reduce almost all background noise hindering speech perception
- Enhance the fine nuances of music
- Receiver: Converts the amplified sound back into an electrical signal to deliver sound through the ear canal
- Battery: Provides the necessary power to the components of the hearing aid