Understand what hearing loss is and how to recognize the signs.
How Does Sound Travel?
The hearing system is complex. How sound travels and we hear is broken into a few parts.
1. First sound is transmitted through the air as sound waves. The sound waves are collected by the outer ear and sent down the ear canal to the eardrum.
2. These sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate, setting the tiny bones of the ear into motion.
3. The motion of these tiny bones causes fluid in the inner ear, cochlea, to move.
4. The movement of this fluid in the inner ear causes the hair cells in the cochlea to bend and change into electrical impulses.
5. These electrical impulses are transmitted to the brain and processed as information.
Although approximately 48 million people have some degree of hearing loss, it is still widely misunderstood. Hearing loss isn’t the complete absence of sound, but rather difficulty hearing soft sounds or understanding speech. Hearing loss can affect anyone of any age, although it is more common in individuals over the age of 60.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Progressive hearing loss is the most common and means your hearing has declined gradually, over the course of a few years. This type of loss can be difficult to recognize sometimes. If you are over the age of 60, it’s important to schedule regular hearing check-ups to ensure you catch any signs early.
Here are some common indicators of hearing loss you should watch out for. If you have noticed any combination of the following, then it’s time to schedule an in-home hearing exam, serving Tucson, Oro Valley, and Southern Arizona
Our ability to hear plays a much larger role than just communication. We rely on our hearing to maintain healthy brain function. We make sense of sounds when they are transmitted through the ear up to the auditory cortex of the brain. To maintain good cognitive health, it’s important to take care of your hearing.
When left untreated, hearing loss can lead to depression, social isolation, forgetfulness, and cognitive decline. Regular hearing check-ups are necessary to preserve good hearing and brain health. Hearing aids can amplify hearing ability, allowing you to hear better and with more clarity.
Types of Hearing Loss
Not every hearing loss is the same. There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type. Common causes include age, loud noise exposure, and underlying health conditions – such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. While irreversible, sensorineural hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is an issue conducting sound from the outer and middle ear to the inner ear. Common causes include ear infections, earwax impaction, fluid in the middle ear, or perforated eardrum. This type of hearing loss can be treated by a physician or specialist.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing losses. Treatment often includes visiting a physician to treat the conductive portion and hearing aids for the sensorineural portion.