About Hearing Loss

Did you know that we actually hear with our brain?  It’s true! Our ears are responsible for transferring sounds into the ear canal, but it is our brain that decodes the sounds and turns them into messages that we can understand. This fascinating reality means that our minds can be trained to hear better. On the contrary,  untreated hearing loss can cause the brain to lose efficiency and the ability to decode sounds properly.

Anatomy of the Ear

Types of Hearing Loss

The ear is made up of three main parts that work together with the brain to help you hear:

inner, middle and outer.

Sound waves, or vibrations, travel from outside the ear, through the ear canal and in to the eardrum.

The eardrum then vibrates and transfers the sounds to small bones within the middle ear.

This amplifies the sounds and passes them along to the inner ear where they become electrical impulses.

Nerves transfer these impulses to the brain where they are translated into meaningful sounds.

There are actually four different types of hearing loss:

conductive, sensorineural, mixed, and auditory neuropathy.

With conductive hearing loss, damage or obstruction of the outer and middle ear can prevent sounds from being transferred to the inner ear. Fluid, ear wax, ear infections, allergies, or physical damage to the ear can be the culprits in this type of hearing difficulty.

 

When the hair cells within the inner ear are damaged, this is called sensorineural hearing loss, and it is the most common type of hearing loss.

 

Mixed hearing loss is simply a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing problems.

 

Auditory neuropathy is when the nerves in our ears have difficulty sending sounds to the brain.  That is often a result of neurological conditions or issues at birth.

Anatomy of the Ear

The ear is made up of three main parts that work together with the brain to help you hear:

inner, middle and outer.

Sound waves, or vibrations, travel from outside the ear, through the ear canal and in to the eardrum.

The eardrum then vibrates and transfers the sounds to small bones within the middle ear.

This amplifies the sounds and passes them along to the inner ear where they become electrical impulses.

Nerves transfer these impulses to the brain where they are translated into meaningful sounds.

Types of Hearing Loss

There are actually four different types of hearing loss:

conductive, sensorineural, mixed, and auditory neuropathy.

With conductive hearing loss, damage or obstruction of the outer and middle ear can prevent sounds from being transferred to the inner ear. Fluid, ear wax, ear infections, allergies, or physical damage to the ear can be the culprits in this type of hearing difficulty.

 

When the hair cells within the inner ear are damaged, this is called sensorineural hearing loss, and it is the most common type of hearing loss.

 

Mixed hearing loss is simply a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing problems.

 

Auditory neuropathy is when the nerves in our ears have difficulty sending sounds to the brain.  That is often a result of neurological conditions or issues at birth.

Hearing difficulties can occur from a number of factors.

Perhaps your job has exposed you to many loud sounds over a long period of time, or maybe you were exposed to a loud noise one time without proper ear protection. Age or deterioration of the hair cells in the ear can also lead to hearing loss. For this reason, not all hearing loss is the same.

The good news is that there are treatments and devices available to help with all types of hearing loss. Knowing how your ear works and what difficulties you are personally experiencing with your hearing are the keys to finding the perfect treatment for your unique situation.

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