Hearing Loss

We educate our patients on the effects of hearing loss.

How Do We Hear?

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions afflicting adults in the United States. To understand hearing loss, first it’s important to understand how we hear.

First sound waves in the air go into the outer ear and travel through the ear canal, which is the route that leads to the eardrum. The eardrum vibrates from the incoming sound waves and sends these vibrations to tiny bones in the middle ear. These bones convert the sound vibrations from the air into ripples on the body of liquid which sits in the cochlea of the inner ear. The ripple is felt by hair cells, and the hair cells move up and down in response. Chemicals which react to this movement create electrical signals, which are then carried to the brain through the auditory nerve. The auditory nerve carries this electrical signal to the brain, which turns it into a sound that we recognize and understand.

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. It often occurs gradually as you get older but it can also happen suddenly due to an underlying health condition or loud noise exposure. There are two main types of hearing loss: sensorineural and conductive.

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells inside the inner ear or the auditory nerve. This distorts the electrical signals being sent to your brain, which makes it tough for your brain to process the sound. The quality of sound you hear is reduced and your ability to hear quiet sounds is diminished. Although sensorineural hearing loss is permanent it can be managed with hearing aids.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sounds are obstructed and unable to pass from your outer ear to your ear canal, usually because of a blockage such as earwax. Due to this obstruction sounds become quieter and muffled. Conductive hearing loss is usually temporary and can be cleared up by a medical professional.

Medical ear diagram
Girl with hearing loss in Wallingford, CT

Signs of Hearing Loss

It’s not always easy to tell if you’re losing your hearing, especially since hearing loss often occurs gradually. Some common signs of hearing loss in adults include:

  • Straining to hear what other people are saying
  • Turning the TV volume up louder than normal
  • Misunderstanding other people, especially in noisy places
  • Regularly asking people to repeat themselves

Straining to hear what other people are saying.
Turning the TV volume up louder than normal.
Misunderstanding other people, especially in noisy places.
Regularly asking people to repeat themselves.

Signs of hearing loss can appear different in children. If you are concerned that your child has hearing loss, look out for the following signs:

  • Having limited, poor, or no speech at an age where speech is appropriate
  • A need for higher volume when watching TV
  • Answering inappropriately to your words
  • Failing to respond to their name or being easily frustrated when there’s a lot of background noise

Having limited, poor, or no speech at an age where speech is appropriate.
A need for higher volume when watching TV.
Answering inappropriately to your words.
Failing to respond to their name or being easily frustrated when there’s a lot of background noise.

If you feel that your child might have hearing loss, the best thing to do is schedule a hearing test. We offer comprehensive hearing tests for adults and children which will show the exact nature and extent of any hearing loss present.

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Hearing Loss and Dementia

Hearing is an important part of your overall health and well-being. When you can’t hear properly because of hearing loss, your brain doesn’t receive the proper stimulation it needs to stay active and healthy. Many don’t realize that we don’t hear with our ears, but with our brains. Hearing loss prevents the brain from receiving certain sound signals which are crucial for retaining information and forming memories. If left untreated, hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline and even dementia.

When you have hearing loss, you may feel embarrassed because you have to ask others to repeat themselves, or you can’t confidently follow along with the conversation. You may isolate yourself from other people and avoid social gatherings as a result. Your brain needs social interaction in order to remain active and healthy. Studies show, when you don’t use your brain to converse with other people you increase your chances of developing dementia. Keep your brain active and healthy and reduce your chances of developing dementia by taking care of your hearing.

Don’t let hearing loss keep you from the people you love. With hearing aids you can hear the conversation and feel confident in social groups. Combat dementia and feelings of loneliness by talking to our team at Best Life Hearing Center. We will help you find the right pair of hearing aids that will help you feel comfortable and confident.

Two hands holding brain model
Oticon miniRITE hearing aid

How treating your hearing can help

Studies prove the link between untreated hearing loss and dementia. By treating your hearing loss, we can help our cognitive abilities, which will help prevent dementia. Hearing aids also help people with hearing loss feel more confident in social situations, especially when they’re out in public. This can help them maintain connections with friends and family. Spending time with those closest to you reduces the chances of social isolation, which is a leading factor for dementia.

Start your hearing journey

Schedule an appointment with Best Life Hearing Center today and start a path to healthy hearing.

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