Hearing Health

Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in North America, affecting nearly 40 million people, 28 million of whom are over the age of 45. The numbers are increasing significantly due to the ageing baby-boomer population, MP3 players, and environmental noise.

It is often gradual and may not be evident for a long time. However, prolonged lack of stimulation reduces the potential for some recovery and makes the process of using a hearing aid more difficult for the brain to adapt. Fortunately 90% of hearing loss can be helped with hearing instruments.

  • Difficulty hearing people talk in noisy places
  • like restaurants and malls
  • People seem to “mumble” all the time
  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
  • Trouble hearing women and children
  • Can’t tell where sound is coming from
  • Find yourself reading lips or intently watching faces
  • TV or radio always turned up to high volume

Signs of Hearing Loss

Communication is critical in life. Our jobs, relationships and social interactions are all more rewarding when we can confidently communicate. And hearing is vital to that. Yet, we are constantly being bombarded by sound levels that can lead to permanent hearing loss, either on the job or during recreational activities.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Decibels (dB) measure the intensity of sound. The scale runs from the faintest sound the human ear can detect, which is labeled 0dB, to more than 180dB, the noise at a rocket pad during launch. Any sound produced at or above 80 decibels (dB) is considered potentially hazardous and may damage the ear. Many work place sounds commonly encountered register at a much higher level; from 90 to over 100 decibels.

Both the amount of noise and the length of time you are exposed to the noise determine its ability to damage your hearing. The noise scale below gives an idea of average decibel levels for everyday sounds around you.

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is often gradual and may not be evident for a long time. However, prolonged lack of stimulation reduces the potential for some recovery and makes the process of using a hearing aid more difficult for the brain to adapt. Hearing loss can occur to anyone, at any age, for any number of reasons…and those that it affect have their own unique experience. But in general, there are three primary types of hearing loss…

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss occurs when sounds waves cannot be transmitted properly through the ear canal or middle ear to the neurons of the inner ear. Excessive earwax and fluid, infections, a perforated eardrum, and any stiffening of or disruption to the three middle ear bones (the ossicular chain) can cause interference with the transmission of sound waves in conductive hearing loss. Most of these problems can be medically or surgically treated. If medical or surgical treatment does not correct the problem, hearing aids can help to amplify sounds.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural Hearing Loss is commonly caused by damage to the inner ear (the cochlea), or by damage to the nerve pathway from the inner ear to the brain. Damaged auditory fibres are unable to transform the sound vibrations into electrical signals, inhibiting a normal hearing experience and making speech unintelligible and sound inaudible. This is the most common form of hearing loss, accounting for over 90% of all hearing loss. It is caused by damage to the delicate hair cells (cilia) inside the cochlea. The condition may worsen and is permanent in most cases. Apart from aging, Sensorineural Hearing Loss may also be caused by long-term exposure to loud sounds, head injuries, genetics, diseases and infections, tumors, and certain powerful medications. In most cases, hearing aids can effectively treat this type of hearing loss and are custom designed and computer programmed to solve the unique problem that each individual requires.