The outer ear collects sound waves and funnels these through the ear canal towards the eardrum.
Struck by sound waves, the eardrum begins to vibrate; consequently, the vibration triggers the rapid movement of three tiny bones (the ossicular chain) within the middle ear. Through this process sound is intensified before reaching the inner ear through the oval window (a membrane).
Sound waves passing through the oval window initiate a wave-like movement of fluid within the cochlea. As a result, thousands of sensory hair cells are activated and, in turn, electric signals are generated. Via the acoustic nerve, the signals travel to the brain, where they are recognized as sounds.
Signs & Symptoms of Hearing Loss
A hearing loss develops gradually, almost imperceptibly. Unlike other sensory impairments - e.g. degenerated sight - a reduced sense of hearing is not perceived instantaneously; it may go unnoticed for many years.
Not only are signs and symptoms of hearing loss very subtle; they are also manifold and often differ from person to person. Reasons for concern may include the following:
Asking people to repeat themselves more often than usual
Increasing the volume of the TV and radio regardless of loved ones' volume preference
Having the impression that everyone mumbles
Having the impression that certain voices, especially those of children or women, are more difficult to understand
Straining to follow conversations and getting tired because of the extra listening effort
Avoiding social gatherings and losing interest in activities that were once enjoyable
Steps to Better Hearing
Do I Need A Hearing Instrument?
Many like to think a hearing instrument is unnecessary because they hear perfectly well. Hearing loss, however, is deceiving. While many sounds may be audible, others - especially those that enhance speech clarity - may have faded.
Confirmed Hearing Loss - Now What?
Having a hearing instrument tailored to your needs and preferences takes more than one appointment. Typically, at least three appointments are necessary to identify the scope of your hearing difficulties. Once that is settled, further appointments are usually scheduled to fit and fine tune the hearing instruments to your needs.