SOUND WAVES enter the ear canal and cause the eardrum to vibrate.
VIBRATIONS pass through 3 connected bones in the middle ear
This motion of 3 connected bones SETS FLUID MOVING in the inner ear
Moving fluid bends thousands of delicate hair-like cells which convert the vibrations into NERVE IMPULSES.
Nerve impulses are CARRIED to the brain by the auditory nerve. In the brain, these impulses are CONVERTED into what we "hear" as sound.
Age-Related Hearing Loss
This is the most common form of hearing loss and affects as many as 50% of people over the age of 60. As we get older, our hearing gradually starts to deteriorate like anything else in our body. This change in hearing is a very gradual process and it takes time for people to become aware of the impact it has on their lives and those of their loved ones. It is usually people around you first notice that you are not hearing so well and you are making them repeat too often.
You might feel you are hearing perfectly fine during one-to-one conversations but as soon as you are with group of people or in the background noise your understanding of speech becomes poor and you might think people are “Mumbling”. Some people are being told that the television is turned up too loud by their family members; this is because people with hearing loss struggle to hear actors with certain accents. With age related hearing loss level of volume for the speech stays the same; it’s the speech clarity that deteriorates. “Just Wear and Tear really”!
Prolonged and repeated exposure to noise can damage
hearing. This may be caused by working in a noisy
environment or taking part in certain activities such as
attending concerts and listening to personal music
Within the inner ear is an organ called the cochlea
(hearing organ). Situated inside the cochlea are a
number of tiny hair cells that receive the sound signals
entering the ear and transfer them on to the brain. Each
of these sets of hair cells are ‘tuned’ to a particular
frequency and over time some of these wear out, which
is why certain sounds become muffled and difficult to
hear. People with noise induced hearing loss will
experience similar difficulties when holding a
conversation like those with age-related hearing loss.
Looking After Your Hearing
You should look after your hearing in the same way you
would look after your eyes and teeth. We recommend an
annual hearing health check for anyone over 50 and
every two years for the under 50s. A free hearing health
check carried out by one of our qualified Hearing Aid
Audiologists is the best way to find out why changes in
your hearing have occurred and what steps need to be
taken to address these changes. Changes in your hearing
can be caused by other factors. Some of the most
common are detailed below:
Otitis media, which is an infection/inflammation of the
middle ear, is one of the most common causes of hearing
loss in children. Otitis media usually affects children due
to the narrow shape of the Eustachian Tube in children.
If left undiagnosed and untreated it can lead to infection
of the mastoid bone behind the ear, a ruptured ear
drum, and hearing loss. But if treated appropriately, any
hearing loss related to Otitis media can be alleviated.
Infection can occur in the outer ear when dirty water
gets trapped in the ear canal. In this moist and warm
environment, bacteria can multiply quickly causing
irritation and infection of the ear canal. As the name
suggests, it typically occurs in swimmers and surfers, but
bathing or showering can also contribute to this very
common infection. In very severe cases, the ear canal
may swell enough to close up leading to temporary
A perforated eardrum is a hole or tear in the eardrum.
Symptoms of a perforated eardrum include loss of
hearing and occasional discharge. There may also be
some pain or discomfort. The amount of hearing loss
experienced depends on the size and location of the
perforation. In many cases a perforated eardrum will
heal on its own, other times surgery to repair the hole is
necessary. Additional problems can occur if water or
bacteria enter the middle ear through the perforation.
We provide a range of custom made earplugs that may
help in keeping the middle ear free from infection until
the hole is repaired.
Tinnitus comes from the Latin word meaning “ringing”
and is defined as the perception of sound within the ear
in the absence of any corresponding sound outside the
ear. People who perceive tinnitus tend to notice it more
just before going to sleep or when they are alone. The
type of tone a person perceives tinnitus in is very
different for every individual. Sufferers usually describe it
as a ringing noise, but in some cases, it takes the form of
a high-pitched whining, electric buzzing, hissing,
humming, ringing or whistling sound, or as ticking,
clicking, roaring, ‘crickets’ or ‘frogs’. Tinnitus can be
intermittent or it can be continuous, in which case it can
be the cause of great distress. In some individuals the
intensity can be changed by shoulder, head, tongue, jaw,
or eye movements.
The ‘amount’ of tinnitus is difficult to measure as it is
very subjective and is usually rated on a simple scale
from ‘slight’ to ‘severe’ depending on the difficulties the
sufferer encounters, such as difficulty sleeping.
Tinnitus is more common than many people think, with
about 20% of people between 55 and 65 years old
Studies have indicated that without any ‘treatment’
tinnitus will actually diminish in the majority of cases as
your brain ‘loses interest’ – this is called ‘habituation’ but
it could take several months or even years. Assistive
devices like tinnitus maskers and hearing aids may help
certain people but results do vary. The British Tinnitus
Association offers excellent advice and information on
what can be a distressing condition for the sufferer.
Earwax (also known as cerumen) is produced in the
outer part of the ear canal and is designed to protect the
skin of the ear canal, assist in cleaning and lubrication,
and also provides some protection from dirt, bacteria,
fungi, insects and water, keeping them from reaching the
eardrum. Usually ear wax accumulates, dries, and then
falls out of the ear or is wiped away.
One of the most common causes of hearing loss is
accumulated ear wax and this can be treated very easily.
Using cotton swabs or other small objects to remove
earwax is not recommended as it tends to push earwax
further into the ear, increasing build up and affecting
hearing. Excessive/impacted earwax can become quite
serious. During the hearing test if otocsopy results show
complete blockage of the earcanal we refer to the GP
surgery to have the passage cleared.