What is hearing?
A person who is unable to hear as well as someone with normal hearing – hearing thresholds of 25 dB or better in both ears – is said to have hearing loss. Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. It can affect one ear or both ears, and leads to difficulty in hearing conversational speech or loud sounds.
- A grandchild’s first word, rustle of leaves in the wind, the clinking of glasses at the table or whispered secrets from your best friend. These are the moments we hold dear. It’s these sensory experiences that enrich our lives.
- Hearing enables us to understand other persons and help to interact with the world around us.
- Good hearing is so important in our day-to-day lives, yet most people with normal hearing don’t even think about what it means to be able to hear well.
- Chatting with friends, listening to sounds of nature, enjoying music or hearing warning signals everything is taken for granted.
- It is only when hearing starts to deteriorate noticeably that we realize the importance of good hearing is in our everyday lives. And how much we miss out when we no longer hear well.
- Our hearing plays an important role in how we relate to our surroundings.
- It helps in forming of relationships, and opens up a wealth of sensory experiences.
How does our ear work?
Need to understand how and why hearing loss happens, it helps to understand how the ear works.
- Firstly, I would like to call it the miracle of nature.
- The ear is an amazing and incredibly skilled organ that performs the wonderful and highly complex task of hearing.
The ear is made up of three different sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. These parts work together so you can hear and process sounds.
Outer Ear– The outer ear picks up sound and transmits it to the eardrum via the ear canal.
Middle Ear– The sound makes the eardrum vibrate and is amplified by the three tiny bones of the ears.
Inner Ear– The cochlear converts movements of these 3 tiny bones into electrical signals. The auditory nerve transmits the signal to the brain.
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss happens when there is a problem with one or more parts of the ear or ears, the nerves coming from the ears, or the part of the brain that controls hearing. “Impairment” means something is not working correctly or as well as it should.
- Hearing loss is where the ability to hear is reduced.
- It makes you more difficult to hear speech or other sounds.
- No two people with hearing loss are the same. However, most often people with hearing loss are unable to distinguish soft sounds and high pitch sounds.
- Have difficulty hearing sounds such as whispers, children’s voices or birdsong.
- No two cases of hearing loss are the same.
- However, most often people with a hearing impairment are unable to distinguish soft tones and high pitches sounds and have difficulties hearing sounds such as whispers, children’s voices or birdsong.
- The understanding of speech also suffers because many of the sounds important for understanding speech are soft, high pitch sounds such as “s” or “th”. These are sounds that help us determine the difference “path” or “pass”. And, however, it may sound, increasing the volume is of limited help. Most likely, people with hearing impairment need clarity, not volume.
- Hearing impairments can occur in all parts of the ear, dysfunctions of the outer or middle ear can generally be treated with medication or surgery.
- However, a good 80 percent of all hearing impairments are caused by dysfunctions of or damage to the inner ear.
- Today, modern hearing instruments can compensate for most inner ear damage.
What are the possible impacts of hearing loss?
- Decreased attention
- Diminished understanding of speech
- Trouble communicating with others
- Diminished memory
- Less willing to embrace the unknown
- Declining job performance
- Lack of acknowledgement by others
- Irritability, stress, depression
- Withdrawal from social life, isolation
What are the signs of hearing impairment?
- Hearing loss generally develops slowly over many years, the effects become apparent only gradually.
- This makes it difficult for those affected to recognize that they are suffering from hearing impairment.
- Relatives, friends or colleagues are often the first to realize that something is wrong.
- However, there are clear signs that your hearing is not entirely as it should be.
- Perhaps you find it difficult to understand the phone conversation clearly?
- Does your family complain about the volume when you are listening to the radio or television?
- Do you find it difficult to follow a conversation in a restaurant or when there is a lot of noise in the street around you?
- Do you often feel exhausted after family celebrations because listening is such an effort?
- Do you hear better when you can look at the person talking to you?
- All these are typical signs of a hearing loss. But don’t worry, hearing loss is not something simply to be endured. You can and should do something about it.
Only old people have poor hearing? Not true!!
It is not only older people who suffer from poor hearing. Poor hearing is widespread across all age groups. Today, young people increasingly have hearing impairments too excessively due to loud music listened to via headphones, at concerts and discos is having a major impact. Construction workers, ambulance drivers, DJs and factory workers. These are examples of professions where loud noise can have a lasting and damaging an impact on hearing.
Hearing loss can, of course, also be caused by medical, genetic or simply unknown factors.
However, one thing is clear: You are not alone in suffering from a hearing impairment. Today, one in six people have some degree of hearing impairment.
If you feel you have hearing difficulty, you should consult an Audiologist as soon as possible.