Having the ability to hear is something most of us take for granted in our everyday lives. But as we get older, our hearing abilities can decrease without us even noticing at all. Recently, researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus found the loss of hearing can have a pot…Read More
According to Statistics Canada, hearing loss is one of the fastest growing, most prevalent chronic conditions facing Canadians today. At Audiology Innovations in Calgary, we’ve successfully helped hundreds of people get to the root of their hearing problems through a variety of customized solutions. If you or your loved one feel you may be suffering from hearing loss, contact our certified audiologists today. We’ll schedule a convenient time for a complete hearing evaluation to test your hearing for mild, moderate and severe hearing loss before recommending the best hearing loss solution for you.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Our ears consist of an intricate and elaborate system of canals, drums, bones, and more. When one or more of these parts is damaged or malformed, it can lead to conductive hearing loss. While there are many things that can cause conductive hearing loss, below are some of the most common.
- Eardrum perforation
- Constant ear infections that cause fluid buildup
- Allergic reactions
- Outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear structural malformation
- Earwax buildup
When you visit our hearing loss experts at Audiology Innovations, we’ll perform a hearing evaluation to get to the root cause of your hearing problems. For situations where surgery cannot fix the problem, we offer an array quality hearing aids, listening devices and other forms of ear protection that can help.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)
Sensorineural hearing loss, also known as SNHL, is caused by nerve-related damage in the inner ear. The most common causes for this type of hearing loss include repeated exposure to loud noises, head trauma, or a disease that damages the nerves inside of your ears. This type of hearing loss can also be a result of aging.
If you suspect you may be suffering from hearing loss, contact a qualified audiologist at Audiology Innovation today. We’ll provide a full range of tests to determine the exact nature of your hearing loss and can help you determine if your condition warrants any medical attention.
HOW HEARING WORKS
We think it is very important to educate our patients that the process of hearing includes both the ear AND the brain. Essentially we hear with our ears but listen and make sense of what we hear with our brain. Sound is made up of tiny air vibrations. The ear changes the sound vibrations into an electrical signal that can be understood by the brain. The brain is the most important part of hearing since that is where sounds are converted into information that we can understand. There are a number of reasons why hearing becomes more challenging as we age and this is often related to changes in the brain.
The ear has three parts. These are the middle, inner and outer ear. Each part of the ear has a different job.
The outer portion of the ear is cupped so it can capture the sound vibrations in the air and funnel them down the ear canal. The vibrations travel through the outer ear canal and send the eardrum into motion. Most issues that occur in the outer ear such as wax buildup or an eardrum rupture are treatable medically and don’t typically cause a permanent hearing loss. Hearing loss that occurs in the external ear is called conductive hearing loss.
The vibration of the eardrum moves the three small bones (called ossicles) in the middle ear. Common names for the bones are the hammer, anvil and stirrup. They are also known as the malleus, incus and stapes. These bones are tiny but important. They amplify the vibration and transfer the sound waves to the structure in the inner ear responsible for hearing, called the cochlea. Many issues that occur in the middle ear are medically and surgically treatable and therefore cause temporary hearing loss. For example, the bones can move out of place or can continue growing and require surgical intervention. Hearing loss that occurs in the middle ear is called conductive hearing loss.
The cochlea is a small seashell-shaped channel through the temporal bone. The three cochlear channels are filled with fluid. The vibrations from the middle ear bones (ossicles) are absorbed into the fluid channels like waves in a pond. The middle channel contains the organ of Corti and sensory hair cells. Movement of the fluid starts a chain reaction that causes the cilia at the end of each hair cell to bend. Bending of the hair cells sends electrical impulses to the eighth nerve which carries the signal to the brain. The inner ear is where the majority of hearing loss is observed in the general population (90%) and is almost always the area where we see hearing loss due to natural aging and or noise exposure. Hearing loss that occurs at the inner ear is permanent and referred to as sensorineural hearing loss.
The auditory cortex in the brain interprets the neural impulses into a meaningful message. This is located in the temporal portion of the brain on the top sides of the head. We interpret the message according to our experiences in life. This is where more and more research indicates the importance of early treatment of hearing loss. If the outer, middle or inner ear are not transmitting the message completely, the listening part of the brain does not have the proper amount of activity. Recent research shows that this can cause the brain to slow down and actually atrophy (Johns Hopkins, 2014). Very recent updates to this research show that hearing aids can reduce the negative effect of this effect (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2015). (Brain study).