Ear Doctors Denver.jpgHearing Loss

I Don't Hear Well. What Should I Do? What Should I Expect?

Because some hearing problems can be medically corrected, first visit a physician who can refer you to an Associates Of Otolaryngology otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist ). If you have ear pain, drainage, excess earwax, hearing loss in only one ear, sudden or rapidly progressive hearing loss, or dizziness, it is especially important that you see us as soon as possible.

*Conductive Hearing Loss

    A hearing loss is conductive when there is a problem with the ear canal, the eardrum and/or the three bones connected to the eardrum

*Sensorinural Hearing Loss

    A hearing loss is sensorineural when it results from damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve, often as a result of the aging process and/or noise exposure. Sounds may be unclear and/or too soft.

Your Genes and Hearing Loss

One of the most common birth defects is hearing loss or deafness (congenital), which can affect as many as three of every 1,000 babies born.

The most common and useful distinction in hearing impairment is syndromic versus non-syndromic.

Non-syndromic hearing impairment accounts for the vast majority of inherited hearing loss, approximately 70 percent. Autosomal- recessive inheritance is responsible for about 80 percent of cases of non-syndromic hearing impairment, while autosomal-dominant genes cause 20 percent, less than two percent of cases are caused by X-linked and mitochondrial genetic malfunctions.

Syndromic(sin-DRO-mik) means that the hearing impairment is associated with other clinical abnormalities. Among hereditary hearing impairments, 15 to 30 percent are syndromic. Over 400 syndromes are known to include hearing impairment and can be classified as: syndromes due to cyotgenetic or chromosomal anomalies, syndromes transmitted in classical monogenic or Mendelian inheritance, or syndromes due to multi-factorial influences, and finally, syndromes due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

HOW YOU HEAR:

Normally the outer ear gathers sound waves from surrounding air and funnels them through the auditory canal to the eardrum, a thin, movable partition between the outer and middle ear, causing it to vibrate. This causes the three ear bones, or ossicles, in the middle ear to beat.

The smallest of these, the stirrup, fits into the oval window between the middle and inner ear. When it vibrates, fluid in the inner ear transports the movement into the canal of a delicate, snail-shaped structure called the cochlea. Inside the cochlea are thousands of sensory cells, each with tiny microscopic hairs at one end. Movement of the cochlear fluid causes these hairs to bend, which in turn stimulates the cells to generate electrochemical impulses. These are passed through the auditory nerve to the hearing center of the brain, where they are recognized as meaningful sounds

What Is Normal Hearing?

Your ear consists of three parts that play a vital role in hearing—the external ear, middle ear, and inner ear.

    * Conductive hearing: Sound travels along the ear canal of the external ear causing the ear drum to vibrate. Three small bones of the middle ear conduct this vibration from the ear drum to the cochlea (auditory chamber) of the inner ear. 

    * Sensorineural hearing: When the three small bones move, they start waves of fluid in the cochlea, and these waves stimulate more than 16,000 delicate hearing cells (hair cells). As these hair cells move, they generate an electrical current in the auditory nerve. It travels through inter-connections to the brain area that recognizes it as sound.