Hearing Loss

Warning Signs of Hearing Loss

  1. Do you have a problem hearing on the telephone?
  2. Do you have trouble following a conversation with two or more people
    talking at the same time?
  3. Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up to high?
  4. Do you strain to understand conversation?
  5. Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
  6. Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
  7. Do many people you talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)?
  8. Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
  9. Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
  10. Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand them?

If you answered yes to three or more you may have a hearing problem.

Outer Ear
Outer Ear
Middle Ear
Middle Ear
Inner Ear
Inner Ear

Outer Ear

Includes the pinna and ear canal. The outer ear funnels sound to the eardrum and deeper structures in the ear. The shape of the outer ear also amplifies the softer high-frequency sounds of speech.

The eardrum separates the outer ear from the middle ear. After sound has been funneled through the ear canal, the force of that sound causes the eardrum to vibrate.

Middle Ear

Contains a chain of three very small bones that are attached to the eardrum. These bones, called the malleus, incus, and stapes, pick up the tiny vibrations of the eardrum. These three bones act like a series of levers to make the vibrations of the eardrum more intense.

Inner Ear

Includes the organs of hearing and balance. The part of the inner ear devoted to the hearing process is the cochlea (pronounced COKE-lee-uh). When sound vibrations reach the cochlea, microscopic fibrous cells called hair cells change sound from one form of energy to another. Hair cells in the cochlea change sound from a vibratory movement into electrical signals that are then sent up to the brain. After the cochlea has converted sound into an electrical signal, that signal is sent up the auditory nerve to the brain where all understanding of speech occurs. Most patients with sensorineural hearing loss have damage to these hair cells, meaning that soft sounds never get efficiently converted to a form of energy that the brain can understand.

How good hearing can lead to a healthier and more productive life

Improvement Area Improvement Reported by Hearing Aid User (%) Improvement Reported by User's Family (%)
Relations at home 56 66
Feelings about self 50 60
Life overall 48 62
Relations with children, grandchildren 40 52
Mental health 36 39
Self-confidence 39 46
Sense of safety 34 37
Social life 34 41
Relations at work 26 43
Sex life 8 NA

Things to consider if you think you have hearing loss

There are three main reasons people request a hearing test.  They know they have a problem, they think they might have a problem or someone else thinks they have a problem.  Whatever the case, it is always a good idea to have your hearing tested.   Not only does it give your hearing healthcare provider a starting base line but if you have a hearing loss it is best to treat it now rather than later.   

Untreated hearing loss has many serious consequences.   Untreated hearing loss has now been linked to isolation, depression, falling, stress, fatigue and cognitive decline.  They have also found in autopsies that people with untreated hearing loss have more brain atrophy than those with normal hearing or have treated their hearing loss. 

Treating hearing loss early results in a more productive life, better relationships, higher salaries, and more enjoyment out of life.