There are more than 30 million Americans that currently suffer from some type of hearing loss. The most common type of hearing loss is a high frequency hearing loss. The process of aging is the predominant cause of this type of hearing loss. The natural process of aging may allow your sensitivity to low frequencies to remain the same, but you might experience difficulty hearing in higher frequencies, such as child’s voices, doorbells, and tv or radio. For many of us we don’t realize that our hearing is slowly deteriorating because hearing loss is painless and progressive. For many of us it takes a loved one to call it to our attention.
How We Hear
Any action that generates noise sends sound vibrations, or sound waves, through the air. The outer part of the human ear picks up these sound waves where it travels down the ear canal and into the eardrum. The eardrum is a thin membrane separating the outer ear from the middle ear. As the sound waves strike your eardrum, it vibrates three tiny mechanical bones of the middle ear. The middle ear is connected to the inner ear changes mechanical vibrations to nerve signals, which are then sent to the hearing center of the brain.
Typical cause for hearing loss:
- Noise exposure
- Prebycusis (aging)
- Infections (Otisi Media, Otistis Externa)
- Head or ear trauma
- Congenitial abnormalities or genetics
- Ototoxic drugs (antibiotics, chemotherapy)
- Cerumen (wax) blockage
Types of Hearing Loss
This involves outer and/or middle ear. It can be a result from infection, wax, or physical trauma. Can often be treated medically.
Can be result of aging, ototoxic drug, head trauma, disease, genetic, etc. Also known as nerve deafness. It involves the inner ear or auditory nerve. Usually treatable and permanent. Treatment is amplification through use of hearing instruments.
A combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. Treatment is usually amplification through the use of hearing instruments.
How do I determine if I have a hearing loss?
Since hearing loss is most often a very gradual process, may of its symtoms are subtle. As hearing loss progresses, not all sounds are lost at an equal rate. Most often, the higher frequency sounds, which contain consonant information, are most affected. Some symptoms are: difficulty understanding at public gatherings; straining to hear TV, radio, or telephone; asking others to repeat themselves; social life is hindered; smiling more and understanding less.
- Reduces need for excessive volume.
- Better sound direction, balanced hearing.
- Improved hearing in noise.
- More natural sound
Which instrument is right for me?
Hearing aids range in both size and sophistication of circuitry. Which combination of circuitry and style is chosen depends on the individual’s type and degree of hearing loss, cosmetic concerns, their dexterity, and budget concerns.
What realistic benefits should I expect from my hearing aid?
The ultimate goal of amplification is to restore – to as large a degree possible – the full range of hearing. By that, we mean that soft sounds should sound soft, comfortably loud sounds should be audible and understandable (loud, but not painfully loud).
One device or two?
There are numerous advantages for wearing two devices over a single device. A majority of hearing professionals endorse the use of binaural (2 devices) when treating a hearing loss.
Benefits of binaural hearing:
- Reduces need for excessive volume
- Better sound direction
- Balanced hearing
- Improved hearing in noise
- More natural sound
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