Hearing loss can be a frightening and frustrating experience. The condition might come on suddenly or it might happen slowly over many years. Those born with hearing loss start life wearing devices that help them hear but needing a hearing aid can be a daunting reality.
There is good news! Hearing aids are smaller, more exact in their settings and more adjustable than ever before. Before getting to the point of discussing which hearing aid you might need, we should describe some types of hearing loss.
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Consumer’s Guide to Hearing Aids
Download our consumer's guide to hearing aids and make informed decisions on the purchase of your next hearing aid device.
How Hearing Works
The ear consists of three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear. Directly associated with the ear is the auditory nerve that runs from the inner ear to the brain. We hear by having sound waves directed from the outer ear into the ear canal, to the eardrum. This tympanic membrane sends sound waves to the middle ear, which converts sound to mechanical vibrations; three bones vibrate inside the middle ear.
The vibration moved to the inner ear, where the cochlea, a spiral structure, includes tiny hairy cells that transform vibration into electrical impulses. The impulses move to the brain for interpretation via the auditory nerve.
Any disruption in the three parts of the ear means that sound will be misinterpreted by the brain, or simply not heard.
Different Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, moderately-severe, severe or profound and vary across pitches so it is important to understand the many different types of hearing loss.
Information About Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is described by varying degrees, not percentages. Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, moderately-severe, severe or profound and vary across pitches
Hearing and Balance
Since the inner ear is responsible for balance, any damage or disease to it can result in loss of balance ability, usually temporarily. The fluid in the inner ear moves and settles in semicircular canals, and other tiny structures with fluid keep our three-dimensional balance intact.
Damage to these creates a dizzy or falling sensation. There are cures and therapies for these problems. Vertigo, or falling due to loss of balance, is described by many people with temporary inner-ear problems.
A common hearing problem today is tinnitus or ringing in the ears. This perceived ringing or whooshing noise is caused by deteriorating components in the ear that send false signals to the brain that noise is present when there is none.
This condition affects about one in five people as they get older. Tinnitus is usually accompanied by hearing loss to some degree, in the same ear. One or both ears could be affected.