Many of us never think about how complicated the process of hearing and understanding sound is, until we start having problems. Hearing loss can happen when any part of the ear is damaged or not working properly. The process of hearing starts when a sound wave is captured by the outer ear, moves through the ear canal and hits the eardrum; this creates a vibration. The vibration travels from the eardrum, through three small bones in the middle ear and hits the cochlea. That hit causes the fluid inside the cochlea to move, activating thousands of tiny hairs. The tiny hairs will then produce an electric signal that is sent from the hairs, through the auditory nerve, to the brain. Finally, the brain interprets that signal as a sound.
There are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed. Conductive hearing loss is caused when there is an issue with sound traveling through the outer ear, the ear canal, the eardrum or the tiny bones of the middle ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused when there is damage to the inner ear (including the cochlea) or the auditory nerve. Sensorineural is the most common type of hearing loss. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both; the individual will have damage to the outer or middle ear as well as damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve.
Hearing loss can range from mild, moderate, severe to profound. Mild hearing loss causes you to miss words here or there, while one-on-one conversations are typically fine. Those with moderate hearing loss begin to have problems with in-person and telephone conversations, often having to ask people to repeat themselves. Severe hearing loss makes following a conversation nearly impossible without the use of a hearing aid. Those who cannot understand speech without a hearing aid or cochlear implant suffer from profound hearing loss.
At Central Florida Hearing Services, we are equipped to diagnose all causes and levels of hearing loss. If you think you may be suffering with hearing loss, contact us at (863) 386-9111 to schedule your hearing evaluation today.