Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

Posted on December 6, 2013 by ECR Louisville in Blog, Caregiver Education, Hearing Loss

The gradual hearing loss that occurs as you age (presbycusis) is a common condition. An estimated one-quarter of Americans between the ages of 65 and 75 and around three-quarters of those older than 75 have some degree of hearing loss.

Sound and the ear

Sound consists of vibrations of air in the form of waves. The ear is able to pick up these vibrations and convert them into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. In the brain, these signals are translated into meaningful information, such as language or music with qualities like volume and pitch. The volume of sound is measured in decibels.

How Hearing Works

The ear is made up of three different sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. These parts work together so you can hear and process sounds. The outer ear, or pinna (the part you can see), picks up sound waves and the waves then travel through the outer ear canal.

The cochlea is an inner ear structure surrounded by fluid. It contains multiple small hairs. Pressure waves in the fluid cause the hairs to move. This movement stimulates the auditory nerve. Different frequencies of noises stimulate different hairs on the cochlea, which translate to the sensation of sounds of different pitch.

Type of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be categorized by where or what part of the auditory system is damaged. There are three basic types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss.

Hearing loss is not normal or common.

According to US government statistics from the 60’s (National Center for Health Statistics), only 8% of the entire US population has any difficulty with hearing at all. Furthermore, only 3% of the population had difficulty hearing anything other than faint speech. Thus, having problems hearing is not something that “everyone has”. Rather, it is a significant sensory loss.

Screen infants for hearing loss

Children whose hearing is impaired at birth, during infancy or in early childhood can have problems with verbal and nonverbal communication and social skills, increased behavioural problems, and lower academic achievement compared with children with normal hearing.Infants at high risk for hearing loss include those who have spent more than two days in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Developmental Disabilities

Impairments in hearing can happen in either frequency or intensity, or both. Hearing loss severity is based on how well a person can hear the frequencies or intensities most often associated with speech. Severity can be described as mild, moderate, severe, or profound.

A hearing impairment

A hearing impairment or hearing loss is a full or partial decrease in the ability to detect or understand sounds.[1] Caused by a wide range of biological and environmental factors, loss of hearing can happen to any organism that perceives sound.

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