Understanding the causes and treatment of ear problems and hearing loss

Print Overview Hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age presbycusis is common.

Understanding the causes and treatment of ear problems and hearing loss

Print Overview Hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age presbycusis is common. About 25 percent of people in the United States between the ages of 55 and 64 have some degree of hearing loss. For those older than 65, the number of people with some hearing loss is almost 1 in 2. Aging and chronic exposure to loud noises are significant factors that contribute to hearing loss.

Other factors, such as excessive earwax, can temporarily prevent your ears from conducting sounds as well as they should. You can't reverse most types of hearing loss. However, you don't have to live in a world of muted, less distinct sounds. You and your doctor or a hearing specialist can take steps to improve what you hear.

Parts of the ear The ear is made up of three primary parts: Each section is composed of structures that play distinct roles in the process of converting sound waves into signals that go to the brain.

Outer ear The outer ear is composed of the visible part of the ear pinna and the ear canal. The cup-shaped pinna PIN-uh gathers sound waves from the environment and directs them into the ear canal.

Understanding the causes and treatment of ear problems and hearing loss

Middle ear The middle ear is an air-filled cavity that holds a chain of three bones: These bones are separated from the outer ear by the eardrum tympanic membranewhich when struck by a sound wave, vibrates.

The middle ear is connected to the back of your nose and upper part of your throat by a narrow channel called the auditory tube eustachian tube. The tube opens and closes at the throat end to equalize the pressure in the middle ear with that of the environment and drain fluids.

Equal pressure on both sides of the eardrum is important for normal vibration of the eardrum. Bones of the middle ear The middle ear contains three tiny bones: Hammer malleus — attached to eardrum Anvil incus — in the middle of the chain of bones Stirrup stapes — attached to the membrane-covered opening that connects the middle ear with the inner ear oval window The vibration of the eardrum triggers a chain of vibrations through the bones.

Because of differences in the size, shape and position of the three bones, the force of the vibration increases by the time it reaches the inner ear.

This increase in force is necessary to transfer the energy of the sound wave to the fluid of the inner ear. Inner ear The inner ear contains a group of interconnected, fluid-filled chambers.

The snail-shaped chamber, called the cochlea KOK-lee-uhplays a role in hearing. Sound vibrations from the bones of the middle ear are transferred to the fluids of the cochlea.

Hearing loss - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

Tiny sensors hair cells lining the cochlea convert the vibrations into electrical impulses that are transmitted along the auditory nerve to your brain. The other fluid-filled chambers of the inner ear include three tubes called the semicircular canals vestibular labyrinth.

Hair cells in the semicircular canals detect the motion of the fluids when you move in any direction. They convert the motion into electrical signals that are transmitted along the vestibular nerve to the brain.

This sensory information enables you to maintain your sense of balance. Traveling to the brain Electrical impulses travel along the auditory nerve and pass through several information-processing centers.The behind-the-ear hearing aid is the most powerful but least attractive hearing aid.

Hearing Loss in Adults Guide: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

The in-the-ear hearing aid is the best choice for severe hearing loss. It is . WebMD explains the causes, symptoms, and treatment of hearing loss. disease affects the inner ear. Both can cause hearing loss.

Top Causes of Severe Hearing Loss; Is Your Hearing Aid. Noise induced hearing loss is sometimes unilateral (one ear only) and typically causes patients to lose hearing around the frequency of the triggering sound trauma.

It is important to note that existing hearing loss is sometimes not directly observable by the patient, who may not perceive any lost frequencies. Let’s take an in-depth look at the three types of hearing loss along with the causes and treatments: Conductive Hearing Loss.

Conductive hearing loss is due to problems with the ear canal, ear drum, or middle ear and its little bones (the malleus, incus, and stapes).

What is conductive hearing loss? Conductive hearing loss is caused by problems in the outer ear or middle ear. It can be as simple as a wax blockage in the outer ear that can be quickly treated by a hearing care professional.

Causes of conductive hearing loss Conductive hearing loss means that the sounds around you are not travelling. Sudden hearing loss usually affects only one ear.

Although there are up to 3 new cases per every 10, people each year, doctors are not able to discover the cause in most cases.

Deafness and hearing loss: Causes, symptoms, and treatments