Young or old, loss of hearing is a phenomenon that can affect anybody regardless of race, sex, or social profile. While it is common among older people, it can also affect young ones. Hearing loss can be confusing as cases differ from person to person. To be able to make positive changes, you first need to understand how hearing loss works.
How Do We Hear?
The way a human processes sound is quite complicated than what people see on the surface. The ear is designed to pick up vibrations around it. These vibrations are known as sound waves.
What are Soundwaves?
Sound waves are vibrations created by energy. Before you can determine what kind of sound you just heard, the soundwaves first need to get inside your ears. Then, the waves get transmitted to the brain.
Only after the brain interprets and decodes the waves can we perceive the sound and determine what it is.
The Relationship Between Soundwaves And Our Perception Of Hearing
Scientifically, sound waves travel slower than light. Consider the case of fireworks. You would only hear the bang moments after seeing the bright light flashes.
Soundwaves come to be as a result of vibrations. The size of the vibration would determine how loud a sound is. Here is how it works.
- The Outer Ear
The shape of the outer ear allows it to capture vibrations around and channel them inside the ear to the eardrum.
- The Middle Ear
The eardrum receives the sounds and vibrates just as a drum does when hit by a stick—tiny bones inside the ear amplifies the vibration. The ossicles send the sound waves down to the cochlea.
- The Inner Ear
Special tiny ear cells known as stereocilia transform the soundwaves into electric impulses.
- The Auditory Nerve
The converted impulses now get sent to the brain for processing. This process happens a lot faster than you can imagine.
Loss Of Hearing And Your Perception Of Sound Waves
If you are experiencing loss of hearing, it means there’s a problem with one of the organs necessary for amplifying or transmitting sound waves to your brain. Hearing loss can be very frustrating.
- The most common type of hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss. It happens when the stereocilia get damaged due to high-pitched frequencies, excessive exposure to loud noise, or aging.
- Another form is conductive hearing loss, which happens due to an obstruction in the ear. It could be excess ear wax, swelling, or an infection that disrupts sounds from hitting the eardrums well.
- Trauma and brain tumors can also affect a person’s sense of hearing, especially if the damaged part connects to the auditory nerve.
Depending on the degree of hearing loss, some people might be unable to hear certain words, tones, or frequencies. Others might hear well but have trouble with deep or high-pitched voices. Yet still, others would simply misinterpret what they hear.
It is important to seek education to understand and render help if anyone around you seems to be having hearing loss. What is equally important is to seek professional help. Conducting periodic hearing tests can help you determine if something is wrong. Hearing tests Chelsea will provide comprehensive assessment and treatment if needed.