Hearing loss: you may not know what you are missing

The following article kindly submitted by Roger S Rouse R.H.A.D., M.S.H.A.A of 21st Century Hearing Ltd. For further information, visit their website at www.21stcenturyhearing.com

There are over 8 million people in the United Kingdom, who suffer with hearing problems. Most of these people are not completely deaf, but 'Hard of Hearing'.

Unfortunately hearing loss can go undetected for many years, as the symptoms are often ignored or confused i.e. other people not speaking clearly.ometimes the cause of a hearing difficulty is nothing more sinister than earwax, blocking the sound pathways, and can be cleared quite easily by your Doctor or practice nurse.

In reality we now live in a very hectic world and the stress and strain on ones hearing can be tremendous. Our history of working in noisy surroundings has inevitably left its mark, as does the fact that as we get older there will obviously be some degeneration of the nerve endings which enable us to hear clearly.

The Ear

The ear responds to the vibrations that constitute sound, and these are translated into nerve signals and passed to the brain. The ear consists of three parts: outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The outer ear is the sound collection point, which directs the sound down the ear canal towards the ear drum (tympanic membrane) Sounds vibrate this membrane, the mechanical movement of which is transferred to a smaller membrane leading to the inner ear by three small bones, the auditory ossicles.

Vibration of the inner ear membrane move fluid contained in the snail-shaped cochlea, which vibrates hair cells that stimulate the auditory nerve connected to the brain. Three fluid-filled canals of the inner ear detect changes of position; this mechanism, with other sensory inputs, is responsible for the sense of balance.

When a loud noise occurs, muscles behind the eardrum automatically, suppressing the noise to enhance perception of sound and prevent injury.

Hearing loss

As was said previously, there are over 8 million people suffering with some form of hearing loss, many of which are suffering with a sensory-neural hearing loss (nerve deafness).

This type of loss means that whilst the person can hear quite clearly when listening on a one-to-one basis, any background noise or poor acoustics (e.g. a cocktail party) can interfere with one’s perception of what is being said, leading to a lack of clarity in the sounds being heard. Difficulty hearing on the telephone, family conversations and softly spoken voices, can lead to a feeling of isolation.

Hearing health checks

It is advisable as you would with either a Dentist or Optician, to have your hearing checked on a regular basis, this can be done free of any charge, either by your G.P. or local E.N.T. hospital or by a privately registered Hearing Aid consultant. They will be able to give you advice, should you need to consider a hearing aid. Please be assured that you will not be offered a hearing aid, unless you need one.

Hearing aids

When considering a hearing aid, there are basically two choices, firstly one provided by the government via the N.H.S they can be free of charge, but in the main quite old technology, and sit behind the ear with a tube connected to an ear piece, designed to fit the shape of one’s ear.

Alternatively you may seek out the advice of a Registered Hearing Aid consultant who will be able to demonstrate to you the benefits of Digital Hearing aids and explain to you which type is best suited to your requirements. See: www.21stcenturyhearing.com

The digital leap

With the introduction of digital hearing aids, it became clear that a digital hearing aid could provide the user with a range of benefits never previously possible in a hearing aid. Clear comfortable sound reproduction without internal noise and an efficient management of feedback whistle.

Added to this is the automatic regulation of sound volume, giving comfortable adaptation to the various sound environments encountered in every day life. The result is a hearing instrument, which has made the greatest contribution to increasing speech understanding, even in noisy surroundings.

Roger S Rouse. R.H.A.D., M.S.H.A.A.

© 2000 Roger S Rouse & Retirement Matters Ltd. All rights reserved

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