To understand hearing loss, we must know some about the way we hear. We hear in two ways: by conduction of sound energy; and via neural pathways to the brain leading from our cochlea.
Sound Energy Conduction
Sound ways travel through the air, water, walls, practically all things.
Our Outer (Pinna) and Middle Ear and Skull collect sound waves and conduct them to our organ of hearing, the cochlea.
Within the cochlea, the mechanical energy is transformed into chemo-electrical signals that are transmitted via the Vestibular Nerve to the brain.
Hearing loss occurs when either the conductive component is disturbed and/or the chemo-electrical system malfunctions. If the conductive component is interrupted, a "conductive hearing loss" has occurred. Should the chemo-electric system fail, a "sensory neural" hearing loss has been diagnosed.
The outer ear (Pinna) collects sound waves and feeds them into the external ear canal. The ear drum absorbs this energy and transfers it into the MIDDLE EAR via a chain of tiny bones called the Ossicular Chain. There are three bones making up this chain: The Malleus (Hammer), the Incus (Anvil) and the Stapes (Stirrup).
If the ear drum is damaged, or the connection (joint) between these three bone become separated, or should any or all of these bones become damaged or diseased, a Conductive Hearing Loss occurs. If a person experiences a sudden onset hearing loss, a hearing professional should be seen, an Audiologist or an Ear, Nose, Throat Surgeon. The professional will test your hearing and isolate where the loss is.
If a conductive loss is diagnosed, and the drum and bones of the middle ear be damaged, the ENT Surgeon may suggest a surgical procedure, termed a “Tympanoplasty”. This surgical procedure is performed to replace or fix the ear drum and/or replace one, two or all three of tiny bones in the middle ear. Implants made from bone, titanium or Hydroxylapatite are used to replace the tiny bones. If you wish to see these implants, please see our online catalog for Total or Partial Ossicular Replacement Prostheses. A hearing aid, may also help restore better hearing.
Most human beings naturally loose their hearing during the aging process. The term for this natural loss in hearing ability is called “presbycusis”. Often, hearing aids can restore much of the hearing loss brought about by presbycusis.
Due to technology advances in music players and cell phones, many people are delivering constant and loud energy levels to their cochleae. It is felt that over time, these loud sound levels can damage the sensory neural component of hearing.
3417 Volta Place, NW
Washington, D.C. 20007-2778
American Society for Deaf Children
3820 Hartzdale Drive
Camp Hill, PA 17011
American Tinnitus Association
P.O. Box 5
Portland, OR 97207-0005
Association of Late-Deafened Adults
8038 MacIntosh Lane
Rockford, IL 61107
Association of Medical Professionals With Hearing Losses
Hearing Loss Association of America
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200
Bethesda, MD 20814