What is Hearing Loss?
Updated: Sep 9
Hearing loss is something that may take place at any age, for any individual and for any
number of reasons… but what really is hearing loss? Hearing loss takes place when
there is a problem with one or more parts of the ear, the nerves coming from the ears,
or the hearing part of the brain. Additionally, someone who has hearing loss might be
able to hear some sounds or nothing at all, depending on the severity.
How the Ear Works
To best understand how hearing works, it is beneficial to know what takes place within
the ear itself. The ear is actually made up of three different sections: the outer ear,
middle ear and the inner ear.
The outer ear, or Pinna, picks up sound waves and helps direct them into the Ear Canal.
After this, the sound travels through this canal and begins to stimulate the Eardrum.
The Eardrum then vibrates and begins a little domino effect between three tiny bones in the ear – these are named the Hammer, Anvil and Stirrup. Side note, these are the smallest bones in the body!
The vibrations that take place between these bones then travel into the Cochlea.
The Cochlea is made up of some liquid and thousands of little cilia (hair cells); as vibrations come in, the hair cells begin to move.
This movement is then picked up by your brain via the 8th cranial nerve, hearing nerve, and interpreted as hearing.
So, what is hearing loss? There are actually a few different types of hearing loss!
Takes place when something is blocking sound in the outer or middle ear. Wax-build up, ear infections, and/or problems with the tiny bones in the middle ear can be common causes of this type of loss.
Takes place when there are issues within the inner ear, rather than the outer or middle ear. This typically happens when the tiny hair cells (cilia) in the cochlea are damaged. Often sensorineural loss is hereditary or due to noise exposure and aging.
Is a mixture of a conductive and sensorineural loss.
Then happens at a deeper level on the auditory nerve. With this type of loss, the ear is actually functioning appropriately, but parts of the brain are not interpreting sounds at a functional level.
What Causes Loss?
There are many reasons why a person may not be able to hear, with the most common
causes of hearing loss including:
Although these are the most common causations, there are many other factors that can
play a role into hearing. Hope Hearing and Tinnitus Center would love to help you out. If
you suspect you have a hearing loss and feel that you would benefit from a
hearing evaluation, please do not hesitate to contact us today.