Hearing loss is usually known as the inability to hear and understand speech, and audiologists distinguish between hearing loss and its general weakness.
It is characterized by a malfunction in one or both ears and is more common in the elderly.
The causes of hearing loss vary from congenital to acquired.
A hearing loss may be difficult to know, and this may be noticed by others.
Taking precautions when going to places of noise, and avoiding them is one of the most important prevention methods.
Hearing loss occurs at any time during life, from birth through adulthood. The elderly are the most vulnerable group, and hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe or profound, and deafness indicates a deep hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss: It occurs when sound is blocked by the outer or middle ear, and medicine or surgery can fix this type of hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss: It occurs due to damage to the outer ear, and often medicine or surgery cannot repair this type of hearing loss.
Mixed hearing loss: It is caused by problems in the inner, middle, and outer ear, and is a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.
There are three important parts to the ear:
The outer ear – It picks up sound waves and directs them to the middle ear.
Middle ear – It converts sound waves in the air into mechanical pressure waves and then directs them to the fluids of the inner ear.
The inner ear (cochlea) – converts pressure waves into sound signals that the brain can understand.
Sounds enter the ear canal.
Sound waves travel through the ear canal and hit the eardrum.
The eardrum and hearing bones vibrate
These sound waves vibrate the eardrum and the three ossicles in the middle ear.
The fluid travels through the inner ear
These vibrations travel through the fluid in the spiral-shaped inner ear – known as the cochlea – and move the tiny auditory capillaries in the cochlea. These auditory hairs detect movement and transfer it to the auditory nerve in the form of chemical signals.
Hearing nerves end in the brain
Then the auditory nerve sends the information to the brain via electrical impulses, where it is translated into sounds.