Facts about hearing loss.
How the Ear Works
The hearing system is complex. It’s important to understand how the ears work and translate sound in order to properly diagnose hearing loss and find a suitable treatment option. How we hear is broken into a few parts.
- First sound is transmitted through the air as sound waves. The sound waves are collected by the outer ear and sent down the ear canal to the eardrum.
- These sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate, setting the tiny bones in the middle ear into motion.
- The motion of these tiny bones causes fluid in the inner ear, cochlea, to move.
- The movement of this fluid in the inner ear causes the hair cells in the cochlea to bend and change into electrical impulses.
- These electrical impulses are transmitted to the hearing nerve and sent up to the brain where they are interpreted into sound.
Importance of Hearing Health
Hearing disorders are incredibly common, from clogged ears to presbycusis to ringing in the ears. In fact, approximately 48 million Americans – 20% of the population – has some degree of hearing loss. Although incredibly common, many people don’t treat their hearing loss for many years. This can lead to a negative impact on your mental health as there is a significant correlation between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline.
You rely on your hearing to effectively communicate and hear the world around you. When left untreated, hearing loss can lead to depression, fatigue, forgetfulness, and even dementia. Healthy hearing is a key part in overall health and well-being. The best management option for hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can reduce the effects of hearing loss by 50%. Additionally, hearing aids can reduce the effect of cognitive decline and dementia.
Signs of Hearing Loss
To be proactive of your hearing health, it’s important to recognize the signs of hearing loss early. Often times, our ability to hear will decline gradually, over the course of a couple years. For this reason, it can be difficult to recognize the signs of hearing loss. If you are over the age of 60, you should have your hearing screened on an annual basis so we can catch any changes early.
If you suspect you or a loved one has hearing loss, look for these signs:
Comorbidities Associated with Hearing Loss
There is a significant correlation between hearing loss and diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Each of these conditions affect blood flow, and healthy blood flow is required for healthy hearing. If you have one of these health conditions it’s important to have your hearing checked on an annual basis. That way any changes can be caught early and you can be proactive.