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Hearing Loss

Hearing loss affects a great number of people around the world in a variety of ways. Over time hearing loss can lead to loss of confidence, anxiety, depression, isolation, and loneliness.  By leaving hearing loss untreated, a physical condition may also become a psychological one. This is why it is so important to seek a solution promptly.

Ear Anatomy

The outer ear includes the visible part outside the skull area (the pina) and the external ear canal (external auditory meatus) down to the eardrum (tympanic membrane).  The job of the outer ear is to collect sound and protect the eardrum.   Common problems in this area include ear wax (cerumen), external ear canal infections and exostosis (boney growths in the ear).

The middle ear goes from the tympanic membrane, across the three small bones (ossicles) to the cochlea (inner ear).  The job of the middle ear is to amplify the smallest of sound waves and enhance them so that they are strong enough for the inner ear to pick up.  Problems here include middle ear infections (otitus media) and otosclerosis (middle bone stiffening).

The inner ear stimulates receptors associated with different frequencies or pitches to send them to the temporal lobe in the brain for interpretation.  The inner ear is the area where ninety percent of the ear damage occurs.   Problems here include noise exposure, oto-toxic medications, hereditary weakness and progressive hearing loss (including presbycusis).

Any disruption along this pathway up to the brain can cause or exacerbate hearing loss or tinnitus.

Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss:  results from diseases or disorders that limit the transmission of sound through the outer or middle ear. This hearing loss can usually be treated medically or surgically. In some cases, a hearing instrument is also indicated and can provide sufficient hearing improvement.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss:  affects the inner ear or neural pathways.  In this case, sound is transmitted through the outer and middle ears, but the inner ear is less efficient in transmitting the sound. This type of loss usually occurs due to damages to the hair cells or to the fine nerve endings inside the cochlea.  This leads to reduced perception of sound intensity and quality.  This type of hearing loss is usually compensated with a hearing instrument that amplifies sound to overcome the decrease in hearing sensitivity.

Combined Hearing Loss:  is the simultaneous occurrence of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, which is also referred to as mixed hearing loss. Treatment options for this type of impairment may include both medical intervention and hearing instruments.

Hearing Loss Prevention

One third of all hearing loss is caused by noise and it is 100% preventable! We are one of very few clinics that has a hearing loss prevention program to help you keep as much of your hearing as possible.

When you schedule a hearing loss prevention appointment we do a thorough evaluation to see your current hearing status.  Then the doctor will go over various hearing loss and ear strengthening protocols to prevent further damage or tinnitus from occurring.  This may include noise reduction, nutrition and more.  It will also include a follow-up appointment to make sure that your hearing protection measures are preventing hearing loss.

Please visit our page about ear protection earmolds.