Hearing Loss

HOW HEARING WORKS

  • Sound waves are collected by the ear lobe and directed through the canal to the ear drum.
  • The ear drum vibrates with the sound.
  • The vibrations are carried through the ossicles to the cochlear.
  • Sound vibrations cause the fluid in the cochlear to move and the hair cells lying within to bend. The cochlear is tonotopic which means that it has areas of hair cells that receive different pitches of sound. This creates a neural signal which is picked up by the auditory nerve.
  • The auditory nerve sends the signal to the auditory cortex in the brain where they are interpreted as sounds.

Types of Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss

Any problem in the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from being conducted properly is termed Conductive hearing loss. These losses are usually mild or moderate in degree and are often treatable and we would refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist for further medical investigation.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be present at birth or gradually deteriorate over time. Sensorineural hearing loss results from missing or damaged sensory cells (hair cells) in the cochlear. It is sometimes referred to as ‘nerve deafness’ and can be mild, moderate severe or profound. It is more common for hearing loss to be present as we become older. A sensorineural hearing loss is unfortunately irreversible at this point in time but can be remedied through appropriate treatment and rehabilitation.

Conductive Hearing Loss
Mixed Hearing Loss

Occasionally, these two losses can exist together and this is called a Mixed Loss. Our comprehensive hearing test will determine if a loss exists and the type of hearing loss that you have. There are many treatment options for a mixed hearing loss and referral to an ENT specialist if usually warranted. Many people come to see us and find they have normal hearing. If a hearing loss is present, we will be able to advise you of the best course of action.

Neural Hearing Loss

Rarely a problem from damage to the auditory nerve or an absence of the nerve is found and the loss is usually permanent and profound. Hearing aids and cochlear implants are not of any use and referral to an ENT specialist for investigation of pathology is necessary.

Hearing Loss Statistics

Hearing Loss Statistics

1 in 6 Australians have hearing loss and it is predicted that by 2050 this number will increase to 1 in 4. Current research has demonstrated the link between hearing and cognition. There is a growing evidence that cognitive factors interact with auditory factors to affect how well people will use their hearing function in everyday life and how well hearing impaired people will adjust to amplification technologies.

The current ear of cognitive neuroscience has demonstrated how working memory performance and speed of cognitive processing are important for speech recognition in noise even for those with a mild hearing loss, and the choice of hearing aid compression technology can create challenges depending on the cognitive capacity of the person.

The cognitive effort required to recognise speech in noisy listening situations can draw on other resources that would be needed for sentence comprehension and lead to auditory exhaustion and lack of understanding even in those who have mild hearing losses. New developments in technology are being developed in noise reduction technology and increase cognitive spare capacity. Untreated hearing loss can adversely affect a person’s self-esteem, social, emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing. It can lead to social isolation and depression and also have a negative effect on the loved ones and family.

The average Australian lives with their hearing loss for 6 years before seeking treatment. Why wait and miss out on the sounds of the world and the words of your loved ones?

The Audiogram

The Audiogram