How To Face Hearing Loss

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Hearing is one of our most basic senses. It is vital to communication. It helps us to remain in contact with family and friends via the telephone and in-person conversations. Hearing also offers protection from dangerous situations, allowing us to heed a siren or respond to a verbal warning.

Individuals with hearing loss often think their situation is hopeless. As their hearing deteriorates, they withdraw deeper and deeper into social isolation and depression. They mistakenly believe that hearing aids cannot help their situation because of misinformation and misconceptions about the devices.

The human ear is comprised of three distinct parts: the outer ear; the middle ear, which contains the eardrum and three tiny bones that conduct sound; and the cochlea or inner ear. Hearing is a highly complex process that involves the middle ear and the cochlea, as well as the auditory nerve and the brain. When sound waves enter the outer ear, they travel through the ear canal and strike the eardrum. The vibrations of the eardrum sends the waves through the cochlea, where thousands of tiny sensory cells generate electrical impulses. These impulses send sound messages up the auditory nerve to the brain, which interprets them as sound.

Every case of hearing loss is unique, but all hearing problems can be categorized as either conductive hearing loss or sensorineural hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss affects the outer or middle ear and is often caused by a buildup of wax or fluid, a punctuated eardrum, or abnormal bone growth. This type of loss can be corrected through medical treatment or by surgical procedure. Sensorineural hearing loss accounts for over 90% of all hearing losses and is characterized by the deterioration of the delicate sensory cells in the cochlea. The aging process, prolonged exposure to loud noises, infections, head injuries, and certain medications can all cause this type of hearing loss. There is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss, but hearing aids are generally effective in helping individuals to experience improved hearing. The common misconception that “nerve deafness” or sensorineural hearing loss cannot be treated with hearing aids is simply not true given the advanced technology of today’s hearing aids.

A hearing aid works as a personal amplification system. When sound enters the hearing aid through a microphone, a tiny amplifier makes the sound louder. The amplified sound travels through the ear canal and causes increased stimulation in the middle ear and the cochlea. This increased stimulation makes sounds clearer and easier to understand.

Hearing aid technology has advanced tremendously in recent years. Today’s hearing aids offer options that dramatically reduce background noise, can be programmed for a variety of hearing environments, and can distinguish between voices and noise, just to name a few features. Due to advances in micro technology and the use of micro chips, hearing aids have developed into smaller and more complex devices. Hearing aids now afford users the opportunity to hear in a natural way.

Depending on the degree of hearing loss and personal preferences, today’s patients have a wide variety of hearing aids to choose from. For individuals who are concerned about the stigma of wearing a hearing aid, there are completely-in-the-canal hearing aids that fit deep into the ear canal and are virtually invisible. An in-the-canal hearing aid provides added power and is also cosmetically appealing. For volume control and an aid smaller than the in-the-canal version, individuals can opt for the mini-canal hearing aid. If inserting and operating small devices poses a problem, patients can choose the in-the ear aid, which is encased in a full shell. In cases of profound hearing loss, a behind-the-ear aid will be able to provide individuals with added amplification.

With all these options, there is no reason for people with hearing loss to suffer alone. Individuals should heed the warning signs of hearing loss and visit an audiologist or hearing professional to get the help they need. Only a thorough examination by a hearing care professional can determine whether or not a specific case of hearing loss is treatable. A professional will also be able to recommend treatment options that take into account the degree of hearing loss and personal lifestyle needs. Choosing a hearing care provider is an important decision, and consumers should consider the provider’s level of experience in the industry, their reputation, and their availability. After obtaining the hearing device that is right for them, individuals should continue to visit their hearing care provider for periodic cleanings and adjustments in order to ensure that they are experiencing their maximum level of hearing ability.

Warning Signs of Hearing Loss:

1. People seem to mumble frequently.
2. You have trouble understanding all the words in a conversation.
3. You often ask people to repeat themselves.
4. Talking on the telephone is difficult.
5. Family members complain that you play the radio or TV too loudly.
6. You cannot hear normal household sounds.
7. You have trouble hearing if you are not facing the speaker.
8. People tell you talk too loudly.
9. You experience a ringing sensation in your ears.
10. It is hard to understand conversations while in a crowd.

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