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How We Hear...

Hair cells in the inner ear:

Hearing depends on a series of events that change sound waves in the air into electrical signals. Our auditory nerve then carries these signals to the brain through a complex series
of steps.

We Need Two Ears...

Our two ears act like radar antennae to register acoustic signals coming from multiple directions. The complex structures of each ear process the received signals and pass them to the brain where we interpret our acoustic environment.

Take, for example, the sound of the wind or of an approaching truck: the nearest ear receives the sound slightly earlier than the other and a little louder. Using the finely processed acoustic information from each ear, the brain has the capacity to calculate the direction of the wind or the direction of the truck's approach and we also "know" approximately how close it is.

Advantages of Two Properly Functioning Ears:

There are Three Major Types of Hearing Loss:

Sensorineural, Conductive & Mixed

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and is caused by damage to the inner ear and/or the auditory nerve. Noise exposure, diseases, certain medications and aging can destroy parts of the inner ear and cause permanent hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss usually effects the high frequencies, which impairs a person’s ability to differentiate consonant sounds and thus the fine distinctions in words such as "fit" versus "sit". Your audiologist can effectively treat this type of loss with hearing instruments.

Conductive hearing loss is caused by a problem in the outer or middle ear, or from a defect in the ossicular chain. Conductive hearing loss can often be medically treated. Your Audiologist will be able to diagnose this type of hearing loss and refer you to the appropriate medical professional for treatment.

When a patient has both a conductive hearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss, it is called a "Mixed Hearing loss". This type of hearing loss often requires both medical/surgical intervention and the use of hearing aids. Your audiologist will diagnose this type of loss and refer you to the appropriate medical professional for treatment.

Source: NIDCD, National Institue on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 2010.

For more information on hearing-loss, and other communication disorders, visit NIDCD.com