How do we hear?
There are three main areas in our ears—outer, middle, and inner ear. When sound travels, it travels in waves from our outer ears to the eardrum, causing vibrations. The three small bones in the middle ear (malleus, incus, and stapes) then amplify the vibrations as they travel deeper to the hearing organ (cochlea). Inside the inner ear, the nerve cells translate the vibrations into electrical signals that are transmitted to our brain, which then interprets the signals as sounds.
How Does Hearing Loss Occur?
Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors, such as ageing, loud noises, and disease. Some examples include:
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can occur suddenly or gradually, affecting one or both ears. The symptoms include:
Risks and Complications of Hearing Loss
Factors that increase the risks of your developing hearing loss include:
Hearing loss, if left untreated, can have a significant effect on your quality of life. Not being able to participate in conversations may lead to feelings of depression and isolation. The lack of auditory stimulation in your brain can also result in cognitive impairment and decline.
Preventive Methods and Treatments for Hearing Loss
To avoid suffering from noise-induced or age-related hearing loss, here’s what you can do:
Having difficulty hearing and/or understanding words, especially against background noise, requiring others to speak slower, clearly, and/or loudly, and not being able to hear yourself properly.
Hearing loss cannot be resolved on its own. In fact, some forms of hearing loss that occur in your inner ear cannot be reversed. Hence, it is important to take good care of your ears and hearing.
Hearing loss caused by blockages in the middle or outer ear may be reversed. However, hearing loss due to damages in the inner ear cannot be treated. Wearing a hearing aid may help you hear again.