Understanding Hearing Loss
The most effective remedy for hearing loss is personal education.
Our hearing is brought to us by a wondrous bit of science and some very purposeful anatomy. The ear is divided into three parts, and each part has a very specific function.
Outer Ear: The outer ear is what we see: the external structure that collects the sounds around and us directs them to the eardrum through the ear canal.
Middle Ear: Inside the middle ear, the eardrum vibrates and sends these vibrations to the inner ear via the ossicles. The ossicles are the three smallest bones in the human body. They are called the malleus, incus and stapes.
The Inner Ear: Is home to the fluid-filled cochlea. The cochlea contains tiny nerve fibres that convert sound into pulses that are sent to the brain.
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing Loss & Quality of Life
Life can be stressful enough without deteriorating hearing making it’s unwelcome contribution.
Hearing is an essential sense that can be taken for granted until it begins to wane.
We know the story pretty well. You might say things like “People are mumbling…” or “I can’t hear the television anymore”. Or perhaps it is your family or spouse complaining of a lack of attention or focus. There is likely a hearing loss at play.
Hearing Loss FAQ
Most of the time, hearing problems begin gradually without discomfort or pain. What’s more, you and those around you often learn to adapt to hearing loss, without even realizing it. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether or not you have hearing loss:
If you answered yes to several of these questions, you may have a hearing loss.
More about the different hearing loss types can be found on the Types of Hearing Loss section of our website.
At their most basic, hearing aids are microphones that convert sound into electrical signals. An amplifier increases the strength of the signal, then a receiver or speaker converts it back to sound and channels it into the ear canal through a small tube or wire. A battery is necessary to power the hearing aid and to enable amplification. More info can be found on the How Hearing Aids Work section of our website.
Not necessarily. Only about 13% of family doctors routinely screen for hearing loss. Since most people with hearing loss hear just fine in quiet places (like the doctor’s office), it can be difficult for your doctor to recognize this problem. Only a trained hearing professional can determine the severity of your hearing problem, whether or not you could benefit from a hearing aid, and which type would best suit you.
You should make an appointment with a hearing professional like an audiologist, hearing instrument specialist for evaluation, consultation, and hearing test. They may refer you to your family health care provider or to an ENT.
Research on people with hearing loss and their significant others has shown that hearing aids play a significant role in a person’s social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being.
More specifically, treatment of hearing loss has been shown to improve:
When you consider all the benefits of better hearing, you can see that effective use of hearing aids has great potential to positively change your life.
While no hearing aid can restore your hearing to normal (except in cases of very mild hearing loss), hearing aids are designed to let you hear soft sounds that you couldn’t hear before and prevent loud sounds from becoming uncomfortably loud for you. They are also designed to improve your ability to understand speech, even in noisy environments.
While no hearing aid can filter out all background noise, advanced hearing aids are designed to reduce some types of background noise so that you can enjoy conversation and improve communication in places like restaurants, business meetings, and social gatherings.
Today’s hearing aids come in a wide variety of sizes and styles—from those that sit behind the ear to completely invisible hearing aids—and feature different technology level to match your specific needs and budget.
Hearing loss can occur at any time, at any age. In fact, most people with hearing loss are younger than the age of 65. It often takes 7-10 years to recognize an early hearing loss.
While you are no doubt concerned about appearance, compensating for a hearing loss by asking people to repeat themselves, inappropriately responding to people (or not responding at all), or even withdrawing from social situations is more obvious than wearing a hearing aid.
Today’s hearing aids are small, discreet and more stylish than ever before. Some are even referred to as “invisible”. Chances are, that once you have a hearing aid, your quality of life will improve so much that cosmetics won’t be as much of an issue for you. More info can be found on the Types of Hearing Aids section of our site.
There are several causes. The main ones include excessive noise, infections, aging, and reaction to drugs or cancer treatment.
There are several factors that determine which hearing aid will be the right one for you. They include the type of hearing loss, your lifestyle and the activities you regularly enjoy, your job, your eyesight and dexterity, and the size and shape of your outer ear and ear canal. Ultimately a hearing professional should work with you to find the best option for your specific needs.
Like many other high-tech devices, hearing aids have experienced a major technological revolution in the past decade and especially in the last few years.
The best of today’s hearing aids are designed to virtually eliminate feedback, (that annoying whistling sound that hearing aids used to make); help to make listening in noisy environments easier and more comfortable; stream stereo sound from TV’s and radios directly to the hearing aid itself; let you talk on the phone hands free; and much more.
Yes. Most people need an adjustment period of around 4 weeks before feeling more comfortable with and receiving full benefit from their hearing aids. However, you should expect to notice obvious benefits during this initial period.
Two-ear hearing (called “binaural”) is better than one. If you have hearing loss in only one ear, you may be fine with one hearing aid. Age and noise-related hearing loss tend to affect both ears, but your hearing profile for each ear is probably different. If there is a loss in both ears, you will probably benefit more with a binaural solution. Today, most new users opt for dual hearing aids, and as a group, they report a higher level of satisfaction than purchasers of a single hearing aid.
The price of a hearing aid will vary depending on the specific model and features you need, and how effective it is in various noisy environments. You should check to see if you qualify for free or discounted hearing aids from your employer, union, WSIB, the Veterans Administration, or insurance provider.
Inexpensive models are simply hearing amplifiers that will make everything louder (including all the ambient noises around you). They will not, for example, separate human voices from background noises, or have directional abilities like today’s more sophisticated hearing aids are designed to do.
The Internet offers many advantages for consumers looking for information and products. Online purchasing is convenient and private, and in some cases may offer cost savings. However, before you buy hearing aids online, here are some things you should know:
Tinnitus: Ringing In The Ears
Tinnitus is experienced by 10-15% of the population.