Hearing Loss

The anatomy of the human ear as it relates to hearing loss

How do I know if I have a hearing loss?

Before we talk about the signs of hearing loss, let’s take a moment and understand how we hear.

Above is a picture of the auditory system, which includes three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear.

Sound enters the outer ear as a sound wave and travels down the ear canal. This causes the eardrum to vibrate. That vibration conducts the sound through the middle ear bones to the inner ear. There it stimulates nerve endings that send a signal to the brain. This signal is then interpreted as sound.

While that might seem complicated, this breakdown helps us identify the location and possible cause. This will allows us to recommend specific solutions that can help improve your hearing. It’s also led to a better understanding of the link between hearing loss and dementia and how important early intervention is. To learn more about this link, be sure to check out this video by the Mayo Clinic.

Sensorineural or Conductive Loss?

The two primary types of hearing loss are sensorineural and conductive loss:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss causes a reduction in sound clarity, making sounds seem distorted or muffled. A person with this type of loss may have trouble hearing in noisy situations and often ask people to repeat themselves. This is the most common type of hearing loss and can be caused by things like aging, noise exposure, or heredity. It can also be caused by head trauma, certain diseases, certain medications, tumors, or other developmental issues.  
  • Conductive hearing loss makes things sound quieter due to a reduction in sound volume. People with a conductive loss often ask people to speak louder or have difficulty hearing faint sounds. A person with a conductive loss may also have a visible ear infection or wax build up in the ear canal. They may also experience pain, pressure or drainage from the ears.

Some people also experience ringing or buzzing in the ear, called Tinnitus. While it doesn’t usually indicate a serious medical condition, prolonged tinnitus can indicate some form of hearing loss. Tinnitus can be very irritating, and even though there is no cure, a wide variety of helpful solutions are available today.

Do I have a hearing loss?

Now that we understand the basics, how do we notice hearing loss in our everyday lives? Especially since we might not notice the problem ourselves? The following questionnaire has been adapted from a self-assessment tool created by the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

  • Do people seem to mumble or speak in a muffled voice more than they used to?
  • Any trouble hearing children speak?
  • Do you feel tired or irritable after a long conversation?
  • Have you withdrawn from social activities because it’s difficult to understand people?
  • Do you sometimes miss key words in a sentence?
  • Do you frequently need to ask people to repeat themselves?
  • Any difficulty understanding the conversation in a crowded room?
  • Do you turn the volume up on the TV or radio?
  • Does background noise bother you or make it more difficult to hear?
  • Is it sometimes hard to hear the conversation on the telephone?
  • Do you sometimes not hear the telephone ring or someone calling you from another room?
  • Are your family, friends or co-workers complaining about your hearing?

If you answered yes to one or more questions, it’s time to schedule a FREE hearing evaluation. Call us now at (440) 310-7037.

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