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Our ability to hear sounds and words depends on a chain of events and these functions can be impaired or lost through an interruption or a fault in the chain. To find out the causes of hearing 1st you will need to know how the ear hears.
The external ear carries vibrations in the air (sounds) into the ear canal. The middle ear then transmits vibrations of the drum through a series of tiny bones to the inner ear, where the vibrations are translated into nerve impulses.
The inner ear is an extraordinary complicated mechanism and the medical profession still admits to not fully understanding how it works. It comprises of some fluid and a thin membrane of tiny hairs which are housed in the cochlea and connect directly to a multitude of nerve endings which join together to form the auditory nerve.
Hearing loss can be the result of damage to any one of the following sections.
Causes in the outer ear
Typical problems with the outer ear (A) include ear wax plugs and infections of the auditory canal. Usually, addressing these problems is very easy. However it is important to act quickly in order to avoid hearing damage.
Causes in the middle ear
Inflammation, fluid behind the eardrum, perforations of the eardrum and otosclerosis (a stiffening of the bones in the middle ear) are the most common problems to interfere with middle ear (B) function.
Most outer and middle ear problems can be addressed effectively with medication or surgery. If this is not possible, permanent hearing loss can be compensated with a hearing aid in most cases.
Causes in the inner ear
The majority of hearing issues concern the inner ear (C). The most common cause is the natural aging process. But loud noise, taking some types of medication, and skull fractures can also have a negative influence on a person’s hearing ability.
These influences damage the fine hair cells and affect the transmission of signals to the auditory nerves. Usually, inner ear hearing loss cannot be addressed medically. However, this type of hearing loss can be corrected with a hearing aid in most cases.
Damage to the inner ear, is called sensorineural hearing loss. Hearing loss caused by an outer or middle ear defect is called conductive hearing loss. If both types occur together, the condition is called mixed hearing loss.