Hearing loss can occur as a result of the natural aging process, exposure to loud noises, illness, injuries, tumors, or certain medications. Treatment for hearing loss will depend on your diagnosis.
The Hearing Process
Hearing is a complex and intricate process.
The ear is made up of three sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. These parts work together so you can hear and process sounds.
The outer ear, or pinna (the part you can see), picks up sound waves and directs them into the outer ear canal. These sound waves travel down the ear canal and hit the eardrum, which causes the eardrum to vibrate.
When the eardrum vibrates, it moves three tiny bones in your middle ear. The middle ear is a small air-filled space between the eardrum and the inner ear. These bones form a chain and are called the hammer (or malleus), anvil (or incus), and stirrup (or stapes). The movement of these bones transmits and amplifies the sound waves toward the inner ear.
The third bone in the chain, the stapes, interfaces with fluid which fills the hearing portion of the inner ear – the cochlea. The cochlea is lined with cells that have thousands of tiny hairs on their surfaces. As the fluid wave travels through the cochlea, it causes the tiny hairs to move. The hairs change the mechanical wave into nerve signals. The nerve signals are then transmitted to your brain, which interprets the sound.
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Tips to Improve Hearing
- Minimize unnecessary noises around you
- Inform others about your hearing loss then request they speak slowly and more clearly
- Face others when they are talking to observe their expressions
- Utilize sound amplifying phone applications
Tips to Prevent Hearing Loss
- Choose quiet activities instead of noisy ones
- Develop the habit of wearing earplugs when exposed to loud noises
- Keep volume low when listening to music or watching television
Learn more about Hearing Loss:
- Types Of Hearing Loss
- Causes Of Hearing Loss
- Signs Of Hearing Loss
- Diagnosis & Testing
- Protection & Conservation
Text adapted from the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery . Used with permission.