Did you know that hearing loss is the world’s single most common disability? Everyone has a measure of hearing loss. Permanent hearing damage can occur at any age, perhaps due to noise exposure, head injury or an infection. However, hearing declines as we get older, which can happen so gradually that many do not realise they are experiencing hearing loss. Learn how we hear and check for the signs of hearing loss.
Check for signs of hearing loss
Do you find that you:
- Often ask people to repeat what they’ve just said
- Have difficulty following conversations
- Try to read lips to determine what people are saying
- Have trouble hearing on the phone
- Notice ringing in your ears
- Turn the TV or radio up higher, while others may prefer it lower
- Find it difficult to hear in crowded locations, such as restaurants and shopping centres
If you said yes to one or more of the above you may be suffering from a hearing loss. The sooner you get it tested the sooner you can improve the quality of your life.
How we hear
The ear is made up of three parts – outer, middle and inner ear. These three parts work together to send the sound to the brain which we then interpret as hearing.
The visible part of our ear is the outer ear (pinna and ear canal), it picks up the sound from our environment and sends them down the ear to the middle ear (ear drum). The sound waves cause the ear drum to vibrate which sends the ossicles (malleus, incus and stapes) into motion. The inner ear is made up of two fluid filled parts – cochlea which contains the intricate hair cells and the vestibular system which controls balance. The movement caused by the stapes bone attached to the cochlea causes the tiny hair cells to absorb the movement and change it into electrical impulses that are transferred to the auditory nerve fibers. We interpret sound when the electrical impulses are sent through the auditory nerve to the brain.
Types of hearing loss
There are 3 types of hearing loss:
Conductive hearing loss occurs when the problem lies in the outer or middle ear and sound is reduced or blocked from the inner ear. Examples of conductive hearing loss can include fluid in the middle ear space (ear infections that children usually get) or a perforated eardrum. This type of hearing loss can sometimes be repaired surgically or medically.
Sensorineural loss occurs when the cochlea or auditory nerve has been damaged. This loss can be due to ageing or noise induced. Noise induced hearing loss can also be temporary or permanent
This is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss
Learn more about the different hearing tests available in our clinic.