What is “Hearing Health?”
For some reason, hearing has never gotten the attention other aspects of healthcare have. So, many people who come to us have never heard the concept of “hearing health.” What it refers to is the protection and support of the various mechanisms that allow us to hear. Protection takes several forms: avoiding prolonged exposure to loud noises, taking precautions against ear infections and understanding the connection between hearing loss and various illnesses, to name a few. Support comes in several forms as well, such as, regular hearing tests to monitor changes in one’s hearing over time and the use of hearing aids and other devices to help us better process sound in the presence of hearing loss.
How Do We Hear?
The way in which hearing happens is fascinating. The outer ears collect sound waves and feed that sound through the ear canals. Deep in the ear canal, those sound waves vibrate the ear drum which, in turn, sets a series of small bones in motion. The last of those small bones literally taps on an inner ear organ, called the cochlea. Inside the cochlea, those vibrations are picked up by tiny hair cells that convert them into electrical impulses. Those impulses travel along the auditory nerve to the brain, which then recognizes that information as a particular.
Types Of Hearing Loss
There are, essentially, two types of hearing loss. Often both types appear at the same time:
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This happens when the hair cells of the cochlea die or are damaged, causing limited or muddled sound data to reach the brain. Causes can include, prolonged exposure to loud noises, physical trauma and simply, the process of aging.
Conductive Hearing Loss
This refers to any loss of hearing caused by an obstruction that prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. Among the obstructions that can occur are, swelling of the ear canal, impacted ear wax and middle ear infections.
In addition to type, we also identify hearing loss based on its severity:
Minimal: Difficulty hearing soft sounds, trouble hearing conversation in ambient noise
Mild: Cannot hearing soft sounds; trouble understanding conversation in loud environments
Moderate: Cannot hear soft and somewhat louder sounds; background noise begins interfering with the ability to understand conversation.
Severe hearing loss: Conversation requires that people speak loudly; group conversations are exceptionally hard to follow.
Profound: Only certain very loud noises can be heard; conversation can only happen with the use of hearing aids.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss isn’t as obvious to notice as you might think. For the vast majority of people, it comes on very slowly, over the course of years. In fact, it progresses so slowly that people get very used to compensating for it, not truly paying attention to it until their hearing difficulties begin to affect their quality of life. Here are some warning signs that can help you realize hearing loss may be a problem for you or someone close to you:
As we mentioned, any of the above symptoms could take quite some time to develop, and even more time can pass before the next one shows itself. That means it is never too soon to react. If you recognize signs of hearing loss in yourself, a friend or a family member, please take action right away. Contact us about a comprehensive hearing evaluation or urge the person you’re concerned about to do so.
New types of hearing aids and accessories are available that are effective, affordable, comfortable and discreet.
Not Sure About Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids are a big step in one’s life, not to mention a big investment.
It all starts with finding out just what your hearing situation is. At Cornwall Hearing Aid Centre, we will take you through a comprehensive, painless series of tests and evaluations designed to give us a picture of your hearing health. Should we determine that you have hearing loss, we will discuss the extent of that loss with you and what steps to take in dealing with it. If your hearing loss has progressed to a point at which we would recommend hearing aids, we will walk you through a number of options and make some recommendations based on your unique needs. We will not, however, simply sell you some hearing aids. You will have an opportunity try a range of hearing aids, on a trial basis and at no obligation, before deciding on which hearing aids to purchase.