Hearing loss that occurs gradually over time, with age is a very common problem. Medical professionals believe that the genetic factor in combination with a chronic exposure to loud sounds are the main factors that contribute to hearing loss over time. Other factors, such as ear wax blockage or consequences of an injury may also affect hearing loss.
Understanding the Anatomy of The Ear
Potential situations that cause hearing loss are sustaining damage to the inner ear, ear wax buildup, infection and ruptured eardrums. In order to more easily understand the potential impairment of hearing, one should reflect on the origin of the problem, while understanding the physical aspect of hearing. We begin to hear when sound waves come inside our ears, where these wave vibrations become transformed to nerve signals that the mind processes as various sounds.
Each of our ears is divided into three main areas – the outer, middle and inner part of the ear. As various sounds pass through our outer part of the ear, they cause vibrations in the eardrum, which, in combination with three tiny bone structures of the middle part of the ear, increase the vibrations that continue to travel to the inner part. These vibrations pass through the cochlea which consists of nerve cells. Several thousand of miniature hairs help to transform the vibrations of the sound we hear into diverse electrical signals that are later transmitted to the brain. Different sound vibrations affect these microscopic hairs in a number of ways, causing neurons to transmit various messages to your brain, and thus enabling you to identify different kinds of sound.
What Can Cause Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss may occur if there was some damage done to the inner part of the ear – long exposure to noise, along with the normal aging process can cause wear of nerves in the cochlea, which sends the sounds we hear to the brain. When nerve cells or hairs on them get damaged, electrical signals are not transmitted efficiently, which can then result in hearing loss. The more frequencies you need to hear, more potential for them to become muffled, thus combining what you are listening to with background noise, making it hard to hear and understand the primary source of what you are listening to.This condition is called sensorineural hearing loss, and is, unfortunately permanent.
Since earwax can accumulate enough to cause a blockage in the canal, it can also block the implementation of sound waves. Blockage created by ear wax can be a potential source of hearing issues for all age groups, but is easily treated by removing the ear wax. This is why hygiene and regular ear cleaning are very important.
Ear infections, tumors or small bone spurs can often result in a loss of hearing. Whereas ear infections are easily treated with antibiotics, bone growths and tumors are more serious and may require an operational procedure to be removed. Keep in mind these are very rare occurrences.
Eardrum rupture can occur suddenly by experiencing an unexpected strong noise, sudden change in pressure or irritation of the eardrum by inserting a foreign object. Once the ruptured eardrum is healed, the hearing goes back to normal.