The process by which sounds in our environment are collected, translated into nerve signals, and interpreted by our brains is nothing short of incredible. Hearing loss can arise from an issue in any part of this hearing sequence, and it’s helpful to understand the mechanisms underlying it.
Sound waves begin by entering your outer ear, called the pinna. It funnels these waves through your ear canal and into your middle ear, which are separated by the tympanic membrane (eardrum). This flexible membrane begins to move when sound vibrations hit it, which in turn starts to move the ossicles—the three small bones in the middle ear: the malleus, incus, and stapes (hammer, anvil, and stirrup). These bones work together to amplify the sound waves and move them to your inner ear. The middle ear is often where hearing loss begins to occur, so it’s important that all of these moving parts are free of damage.
The inner ear is full of fine hair-like cells, replete with nerve endings, within a spiral-shaped organ called the cochlea. These tiny hair cells collect information from sound vibrations coming in from the middle ear and transmit those vibrations into nerve impulses, via the auditory nerve, to your brain. The brain processes and interprets these signals as sounds, allowing us to hear the noises around us.
If you suffer from hearing loss, it means that one of the above sections isn’t working quite right. Our hearing evaluation is designed to diagnose which type of hearing loss is present, and enables us to identify the most effective solution for you.
There are four types of hearing loss:
1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss
2. Conductive Hearing Loss
3. Mixed Hearing Loss
4. Auditory Processing Disorders