Stage 1 - The outer ear
The outer ear collects sound waves and directs them into the ear canal. Here they are amplified by the canal's funnel-like shape and channeled on to the eardrum.
Stage 2 - The middle ear
The middle ear on reaching the eardrum, the sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate, transmitting the sound to three tiny bones located in the middle ear. These bones are commonly referred to as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup and they connect the eardrum to a membrane between the middle and inner ear, known as the "oval window". The movement of the oval window transmits the pressure waves for sound in to the inner ear..On reaching the eardrum, the sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate, transmitting the sound to three tiny bones located in the middle ear. These bones are commonly referred to as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup and they connect the eardrum to a membrane between the middle and inner ear, known as the "oval window". The movement of the oval window transmits the pressure waves of sound into the inner ear.
Stage 3 - The inner ear
The inner ear The inner ear is fluid-filled and consists of the spiral-shaped "cochlea". The passageways of the cochlea are lined with about 20,000 microscopic hair cells that convert sound vibrations into nerve impulses. These impulses are then sent to the brain which interprets the impulses as meaningful sound
A hearing loss develops gradually, almost imperceptibly. Unlike other sensory impairments a reduced sense of hearing is not perceived instantaneously; it may go unnoticed for many years. Not only are signs and symptoms of hearing loss very subtle; they are also manifold and often differ from person to person. Reasons for concern may include the following:
There are many kinds of hearing loss, but most fall into three categories:
1- Sensorineural hearing loss This is the most common type of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the tiny hair cells in the ear that help transmit sound to your brain. These can bend or break due to: - Exposure to very loud noises - Genetic disposition - Virus infections in the inner ear - Certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation - Head injury - Age The effects are almost always the same: it becomes harder to distinguish speech from noise, certain high-pitched sounds such as birdsong disappear altogether, people seem to be mumbling and you often have to ask them to repeat themselves. Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and can't be corrected medically, but hearing aids can almost always help.
2- Conductive hearing loss This is caused by any blockage that prevents sound reaching the inner ear. This might include: - A build-up of earwax - Fluid in the middle ear - Unusual bone growth in the middle ear - Middle ear infections - Small holes in the eardrum Conductive hearing loss is not necessarily permanent and can often be corrected medically or surgically.
3- Mixed hearing loss It is possible that you may suffer from both types of hearing loss. This condition is called mixed hearing loss . Mixed hearing losses can be helped with surgery and hearing aids. For a complete hearing evaluation you need to visit your local hearing care professional.
Do I Need A Hearing Instrument?
Many like to think a hearing instrument is unnecessary because they hear perfectly well. Hearing loss, however, is deceiving. While many sounds may be audible, others – especially those that enhance speech clarity – may have faded.
Confirmed Hearing Loss – Now What?
Having a hearing instrument tailored to your needs and preferences takes more than one appointment. Typically, at least three appointments are necessary to identify the scope of your hearing difficulties. Once that is settled, further appointments are usually scheduled to fit and fine tune the hearing instruments to your needs.