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Hearing is one of our five senses. Therefore, it is important to take care of it. Good hearing contributes to our quality of life by allowing us to understand completely the universe surrounding us. Hearing is an integral part of communication, our hobbies and interpersonal relationships.
It is an essential aspect of our contact and interaction with the world. If you or one of your close relatives suffer from hearing loss, a consultation is required in order to preserve this precious contact with your surrounding.
Most people will experience hearing loss to varying degrees during their lifetime. Presbycusis is part of the aging process of our ear, resulting in hearing disability. It is in fact the principle cause of deafness. Other factors such as heredity, certain serious diseases, and traumatic accidents can cause hearing damages, regardless of the aging process.
However, some types of deafness are caused by careless acts that could have been avoided. Untreated ears infections (otitis externa, chronic otitis), ototoxic medication, viral infections (measles, mumps, syphilis) and bacterial infections such as meningitis should be treated quickly and properly because the consequences on your hearing can be devastating.
Noise exposure is also a significant cause of deafness. If you are regularly exposed to loud sounds at work or during your spare time, it is essential to protect your ears with the proper protection.
You have two eyes, why wouldn’t it be the same thing with your ears? There is a reason why you have two; to expand your hearing range. This is necessary to locate where different sounds in the environment are coming from. Therefore, your brain needs to use both of your ears.
- The voices of people who are close to you will sound much clearer. Several studies have shown that two hearing aids highly improve speaking comprehension, both in quiet or loud environment. Consider this with regard to your eyes for a moment. When you experience sight loss, you would not think of getting a monocle. You will most likely choose a pair of glasses correcting both eyes. Why would it be different with ears?
- Using both ears is necessary to locate sounds. Without this ability, the universe around you would appear confusing, without organization. Using a binaural fitting will allow you to be completely aware of your surrounding environment.
- Wearing only one hearing aid when both are required will lead your ear to burn out as it has to do the work for both ears.
Binaural hearing makes it easier and less strenuous and as a result you will be less tired at the end of the day.
- Take your muscles as an example : when you don’t use them, they become lazy. It is important to stimulate both ears, otherwise the ear without any device could suffer from auditory deprivation. This deprivation could even lead to loss of speaking comprehension after a few years without stimulation.
Imagine sound as a wave, an invisible sound wave spreading through your ear. Four structures of your ear are engaged, successively step by step, in this wave formation.
First step :
Outer ear. The only visible part of the ear, made of the pinna and external auditory canal, with a length of 2.5cm. This section can seem useless at first but is essential to locate, catch and amplify sounds.
Second step :
Middle ear. This is one of the few air cavities in the body. This is where you can find the tympanic membrane, which is more commonly known as the eardrum. As a result of the effect of the sound waves, this drum extends and rebounds to propel sound waves into the middle ear. A lever mechanism made up of three ossicles – malleus, incus, stapes – move on to push on the oval window.
Third step :
Inner ear. The inner ear is made of two important sections with completely different functions : The labyrinth and the cochlea. The labyrinth is composed of three semicircular canals full of liquid and is responsible for maintaining your balance. The cochlea is full of hairs, which are called internal and external ciliated cells. When these hairs vibrate, they turn the vibration energy into nerve energy.
Fourth step :
Auditory nerve. This is essentially the highway of sounds. Several encoded pieces of information are circulated here before being sent to the brain to be heard.
Hearing impairment can occur at any of the four levels of the auditory system.
Located in the inner ear or neural pathways : Perceptive deafness, also known as sensorineural hearing loss, can be due to :
- Ear injuries (noises exposure);
- Presbycusis or aging;
- Congenital reasons;
- Hereditary or genetic causes;
- Ménière’s disease.
Located in outer or middle ear: conductive deafness can be caused by :
- A defect in the outer ear;
- Osseous discontinuity;
- Middle ear infection;
- Eardrum perforation;
- Cerumen (earwax) accumulation.
The first step in hearing loss screening is to consult your physician, an audiologist, an otolaryngologist or an audioprosthesist. Based on a hearing evaluation, your physician will be able to recommend hearing aids or another appropriate treatment.
THAT CAN BE
OF DEAFNESS :
- You have to turn up the volume on the radio or TV to an abnormal level;
- People around you have to repeat themselves constantly;
- You struggle to hear high pitched sounds, women or children voices;
- Your family and friends are insistent in their belief that you have hearing problems;
- Hearing loss is generally a slow process whose symptoms appear little by little. Listen to your body…and the people around you.
Did you know that :
of the hearing impaired, who could benefit from hearing aids, are wearing devices;
of people suffering from hearing loss are not diagnosed or treated;
of people aged 75 and above suffer from hearing disability;
of people aged 65 and above suffer from hearing disability;
of the population
in general is affected;
of deafness can be treated medically and/or by surgical operation.