Your life, your world, your hearing.
Good hearing is so important in our everyday lives, yet most people with normal hearing don’t even think twice about what it means to be able to hear well. Chatting with friends, listening to the sounds of nature, enjoying music or hearing warning signals – they take it all for granted.
Our hearing plays an important role in how we relate to our surroundings. It facilitates the forming of relationships, and opens up a wealth of sensory experiences. It is also very complex and extremely sensitive.
So let’s give it the attention it deserves …
How hearing works:
The ear is an amazing and incredibly skilled organ that performs the wonderful and highly complex task of hearing. It can distinguish between 7,000 different pitches and enables the brain to locate sound sources.
The human ear consists of three parts – the outer, middle, and inner ear.
Outer ear: The outer ear picks up sound and transmits it to the eardrum via the ear canal.
Middle ear: Sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate. The ossicles, called malleus, incus, and stapes, pass the vibration on to the inner ear.
Inner ear: The cochlea converts movements of the ossicles into electrical signals. The auditory nerve transmits the signals to the brain.
Hearing loss generally develops slowly over many years; the effects become apparent only gradually. This makes it difficult for those affected to recognize that they are actually suffering from a hearing impairment. Relatives, friends or colleagues are often the first to realize that something is wrong.
However, there are clear signs that your hearing is not entirely as it should be. Perhaps you find it difficult to understand phone conversations clearly? Does your family complain about the volume when you are listening to the radio or television? Do you find it difficult to follow a conversation in a restaurant or when there is a lot of noise in the street around you? Do you often feel exhausted after family celebrations because listening is such an effort? Do you hear better when you are able to look at the person talking to you?
All these are typical signs of a hearing impairment. But don’t worry; hearing loss is not something simply to be endured. You can – and should – do something about it.
Many people find it hard to come to terms with the idea of wearing hearing aids. They put off the decision and only do something about it when the problems associated with poor hearing simply become too much for them.
Still, the earlier you do something about hearing loss, the better. Even when hearing is just starting to deteriorate, hearing aids help to maintain neural pathways in your brain responsible for hearing all the sounds around you. The longer you put off hearing aids, the harder it will be for you to get used to them when you do finally wear them, and more importantly, the more you’ll miss out in life.
Hearing impairments can occur in all parts of the ear; dysfunctions of the outer or middle ear can generally be treated with medication or surgery. However, a good 80 % of all hearing impairments are caused by dysfunctions of or damage to the inner ear. Today, modern hearing aids can compensate for most inner ear damage.
However, no two cases of hearing loss are the same. Most often people with a hearing impairment are unable to distinguish soft tones and high-pitched sounds and have difficulties hearing sounds such as whispers, children’s voices or birdsong.