Understanding Hearing Loss

According to Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss often waiting, on average, 7 years before seeking help.  This blog will look at hearing loss basics including parts of the ear and suggestions on how to help compensate.

Parts of the Ear

A hearing loss can happen when any part of the ear or auditory (hearing) system is not working in the usual way. The following definitions and diagram come from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The Outer Ear: The outer ear consists of the part we see on the sides of our head, known as the pinna, the ear canal, and the ear drum. The ear drum is sometimes called the tympanic membrane, which separates the outer and middle ear

The Middle Ear: The middle ear is made up of the ear drum and three small bones called ossicles that send the movement of the eardrum to the inner ear.

The Inner Ear: The inner ear is made up of the snail shaped organ for hearing known as the cochlea, the semicircular canals that help with balance, and the nerves that go to the brain.

Types and Degrees of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss has been shown to negatively impact nearly every dimension of the human experience including physical, emotional and mental health. According to the CDC, there are four basic types of hearing loss along with four degrees to which they can be described.

Conductive Hearing Loss: Hearing loss caused by something that stops sounds from getting through the outer or middle ear. This type of hearing loss can often be treated with medicine or surgery.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Hearing loss that occurs when there is a problem in the way the inner ear or hearing nerve works.

Mixed Hearing Loss: Hearing loss that includes both a conductive and a sensorineural hearing loss.

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder: Hearing loss that occurs when sound enters the ear normally, but because of damage to the inner ear or the hearing nerve, sound isn’t organized in a way that the brain can understand.

The degrees of hearing loss range from mild to profound.

Mild Hearing Loss: A person with a mild hearing loss may hear some speech sounds but soft sounds are hard to hear.

Moderate Hearing Loss: A person with a moderate hearing loss may hear almost no speech when another person is talking at a normal level.

Severe Hearing Loss: A person with severe hearing loss will hear no speech when a person is talking at a normal level and only some loud sounds.

Profound Hearing Loss: A person with a profound hearing loss will not hear any speech and only very loud sounds.

Ways to Help Compensate for Hearing Loss

There are many ways to help accommodate varying levels of hearing loss. These ways can be as simple as looking directly at the person speaking to you, turning on closed captioning, or as advance as getting a hearing aid or cochlear implant. Another option is procuring assistive listening devices or Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAP). ILA sells many hearing related products to assist in being able to hear better. A few hearing related items currently on sale include:

Naphon A-580U Mini Voice Amplifier: The NAPHON Mini wired voice amplifier offers superior consistent performance due to an integrated sound box within the amplifier mechanism. Featuring excellent frequency response and audio effects, the NAPHON will easily help to project one’s voice in any situation. The Naphon A580U includes a headset microphone, is small, sleek and lightweight, therefore easy to carry and operate.

Dry & Store System: This extremely efficient dryer conveniently stores and rejuvenates hearing aids during the night. It combines heat, circulating dry air, and a specially designed desiccant to absorb moisture from your hearing aids and cochlear implants.

The Ha Ha Communicator (Personal Amplification): The Communicator is a subtle hearing assistive device that can help you hear friends, your doctor, the bank teller or anyone with whom you want to communicate. It looks like a phone handset, but this inconspicuous little gadget increases the volume of the person talking to you to the level that you can hear the instructions or information. Obviously, this cuts down on your frustration and improves your ability to understand the transaction or conversation.

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