Hearing loss is characterized by inner ear cell damage or a degradation or calcification of the middle ear ossicles. There are approximately 30,000 tiny hair cells in the inner ear (cochlea nerve). There is also two kinds of fluid; endolymph and peralymph in the inner ear that cause the hair cells to move in a wave-like manner. Sound is processed as hearing when the movement of these hair cells transmits an electrical signal from the auditory nerve to your brain.
As a person ages, these hair cells in the cochlea nerve become damaged or broken. This damage can be exacerbated by noise exposure causing a more severe hearing loss. If these hair cells aren't present or healthy, the electrical signal that needs to be transmitted from the auditory nerve to the brain does not occur and hearing does not take place. This type of loss is called sensorineural hearing loss.
Another form of hearing loss is found when the bones in the middle ear (malleus, incus and stapes) become calcified. A bony growth can form around the incus or the stapes bone preventing them from vibrating when a sound wave hits the tympanic membrane. If this vibration does not occur, or is weakened, the sound wave does not reach the cochlea nerve where the hair cells pick up the electrical signals necessary to hear. This type of loss is conductive - sound is being impeded from conducting to the cochlea nerve.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss affects one in ten Americans. It affects them in a variety of ways. Over time, it can lead to anxiety, depression, isolation, and decline in career performance. In children, it can result in what appears to be behavioral problems and lack of social and academic performance. By leaving hearing loss untreated, a physical condition may also become a psychological one. It is important to seek a diagnosis promptly.
Answer These Questions
If you answered yes to any of these questions, there is a chance that you may have some degree of hearing loss. We urge you to contact us for a FREE Hearing Examination and Consultation. We will be able to help you choose the best solution for your budget and lifestyle.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a problem that can develop at any time; most often painless and so gradual that you may not realize for several years that this problem is affecting you. Hearing loss can inhibit your ability to experience the sounds and voices around you.
There are many factors that may affect or cause adult hearing loss, including:
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is basically categorized three different ways. An individual can have a sensorineural hearing loss, a conductive loss or a mixed loss. Please see the information below for an explanation of each.
Conductive Hearing Loss: A conductive hearing loss results from diseases or disorders that can impede the transmission of sound from the ear canal and middle ear to the cochlea nerve. This hearing loss can usually be treated medically or surgically. In some cases, a hearing instrument can provide sufficient hearing improvement.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss: This type of hearing loss is the most prevalent among adults over the age of 55 and affects the inner ear or neural pathways. In this case, sound is transmitted through the outer and middle ears, but the cochlea nerve located in the inner ear has damaged or broken hair cells. These damaged hair cells prevent the signal to be transmitted to the brain resulting in the diminished perception of sound. This type of hearing loss is usually compensated with a hearing instrument that amplifies sound to overcome the decrease in hearing sensitivity.
Mixed Hearing Loss: A mixed hearing loss is the simultaneous occurrence of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Treatment for this type of loss include the option of surgery, hearing instruments or both.
Levels of Hearing Loss
|Degree of Hearing Loss||Threshold of Hearing in Decibels (dB)||Ability to Hear Speech|
|None||0-25 dB||Little or no difficulty|
|Mild||26-40 dB||Difficulty hearing soft speech, but can hear in quiet environments|
|Moderate||41-55 dB||Difficulty understanding speech, especially when background noise is present. Television and Radio require higher volumes than normal|
|Moderate to Severe||56-70 dB||Speech sounds muffled and unclear. Speech must be loud with understanding very difficult in group situations|
|Severe||71-90 dB||Normal speech is inaudible. Comprehension is achieved only through shouted speech|
|Profound||91+ dB||Amplified Speech is unclear|
What Should I Do Next?
If there is a chance that you may have some degree of hearing loss, we urge you to contact us for a FREE Hearing Examination and Consultation.We can provide you with detailed information about your hearing loss as well as the best hearing aids and technology to fit your type of loss and lifestyle.