Hearing is a complex sense involving both the ear’s ability to detect sounds and the brain’s ability to interpret those sounds, including the sounds of speech.
When one loses the ability to detect sounds, understanding can become harder. This is hearing loss.
Approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population – 38 million Americans – have a significant hearing loss.
Hearing loss is not just age related. 1 in 4 teenagers have a slight loss today from noise exposure. Waiting too long to get hearing help can cause serious health risks.
- Cognitive decline
- Social anxiety, isolation, depression
Types of Hearing Loss
Occurs when sound waves cannot reach the inner ear. The cause may be earwax build-up, fluid, or a punctured eardrum. Medical treatment or surgery can usually restore a conductive hearing loss.
Occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent. It’s also referred to as nerve damage, the most popular type of hearing loss.
In picture A, you can see a normal grouping of hair cells inside the cochlea. They will move properly when they hear a sound thus resulting in normal detection. Once the hair cells are damaged (picture B) they require more energy to get them to possibly move. This is hearing loss.
With normal hearing, microscopic hair cells inside the inner ear’s hearing organ, called the cochlea, sway while they hear sounds.
Which one’s move and how they move sends signals to our brain. Our brain then interprets what we are hearing.
For certain reasons (age, medications, noise) the hair cells become damaged and do not function normally, thus causing sensorineural hearing loss.
When you lose your ability to hear properly, you lose CLARITY. Certain letters and sounds become harder to hear.
Consonants are softer and usually are harder to detect resulting in misunderstanding words especially in noise.
“I hear fine.
I just don’t understand sometimes.”
THIS IS WHAT SPEECH SOUNDS LIKE TO SOMEONE WITH HEARING LOSS.
Tinnitus, which occurs at all ages, is typically described as ringing in the ears, but it also can sound like roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing. It can come and go. It might be heard in one or both ears, and it may be loud or soft. Tinnitus can accompany any type of hearing loss and can be a sign of other health problems as well.
Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease, and over 90% of people with it have treatable hearing loss.
The good news is that we can help.
Properly fitted hearing aids can…
- Improve your ability to detect speech and environmental sounds.
- Relieve the stresses of your tinnitus.
- Drastically improve the quality of your life.