Hearing begins when the outer ear, the visible portion of the ear that is on the outside of the head, channels sound waves down the auditory canal. This tube-like passageway is lined with tiny hairs and small glands that produce ear wax.
The middle ear lies at the end of the auditory canal. It is composed of the eardrum and three small bones, known by the layman as the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup. When sound waves hit the eardrum, it vibrates and, in turn, moves the hammer. The hammer moves the anvil, which moves the stirrup, transmitting the vibrations into the inner ear. The middle ear functions to amplify sound, which is why significant hearing loss can result from any disruption in any of the parts.
The inner ear consists of the cochlea and the nerve of hearing. It converts sound waves into nerve impulses that travel to the brain via the movement of tiny hair cells. The brain, in turn, allows us to hear, as long as the message it is receiving is not distorted due to problems in the process just described.
Many people suffer from hearing loss…
In fact, the latest available statistics show that about 20% of the U.S. population reports difficulty hearing! That’s more than 48 million people! And as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, that number promises to increase dramatically!
Are you one of those millions of people who does not hear as well as they once did? If so, you are certainly not alone.
Consider these statistics reported by Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., former Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute:
- 1 out of 3 people at age 65 has a hearing loss
- 50 million Americans experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- About 2-3 of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable hearing loss in one or both ears
- More than 30 million Americans experience dangerous noise levels at work
In addition, studies have linked untreated hearing loss to emotional, physical, mental, psychological and even economic disadvantages! And, to make matters even worse, there are many “myths” about hearing loss that prevent those with hearing loss from doing anything about it.
Adam Savage’s Hearing Loss
Causes of Hearing Loss
One of the most common “myths” about hearing loss is that only “old people” suffer from it! In fact, the reverse is true! The majority (65%) of people with hearing loss are younger than 65 and six million people in the U.S. between 18 and 44 suffer from hearing loss.
The truth is that there are several causes of hearing loss with “exposure to noise” ranking high among the reasons. The primary causes of hearing loss are:
- Exposure to noise
- Family history of hearing loss
- Aging process
- Head trauma
Types and Treatments of Hearing Loss
Treatment of hearing loss depends upon the type of loss. There are four types of hearing loss:
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