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How Do We Hear? An Insight into Our Hearing Mechanism!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 1:48:58 PM Asia/Calcutta

Human beings can be an active part of this world only with the help of the five senses - namely sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. If one of the senses breaks down, an individual faces great changes with difficult challenges coming on the way.

 

Hearing Loss and Its Causes

Partial or total inability to hear is termed as hearing loss. Various causes like ear infections, malformations in the internal ear structure, overexposure to loud noises, infections or other health conditions, genetic issues and even leading an unhealthy lifestyle might lead to hearing impairment. However, there is always a way out. There are many hearing loss treatment options like advanced and smart digital hearing aids and cochlear implants which are designed to make your life better.

To know more about how a hearing aid machine works, this blog might be helpful: Understanding Your Hearing Aid Machine.

 

Parts of the Human Ear

The human ear comprises three main parts, namely the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear.

  • The outer ear - It consists of the pinna or the auricle and the auditory canal. The tympanic membrane or the eardrum divides the outer ear from the middle ear.

  • The middle ear - The middle ear of mammals consists of three small ear bones, namely malleus, incus, and stapes (hammer, anvil, and stirrup) - together known as the ossicles. The ossicles provide further energy and impetus required to transfer the sound signals from the eardrum to the oval window of the cochlea. The eustachian tube is another part of the middle ear. It connects the middle ear with the back of the nose and helps to equalise the pressure in the middle ear, thus helping in the proper transfer of the sound waves.

  • The inner ear - The inner ear consists of the most important organ responsible for hearing - the spiral-shaped cochlea. Apart from the cochlea, the inner ear also comprises the vestibule and the semicircular canals which are responsible for body balance.

 

How Do We Hear?

The human hearing mechanism is quite a complex one. There are a series of steps involved in between the receipt of the sound waves by the outer ear to our actual act of ‘hearing’ it. Let’s have a brief look at them -

  • The outer ear receives the sound waves which travel down the auditory canal and strike the eardrum.

  • This causes the eardrum or the tympanic membrane to vibrate.

  • These vibrations are then passed over to the ossicles or the three tiny ear bones.

  • The ossicles amplify the sounds and transfer them to the inner ear.

  • The fluid-filled hearing organ - the cochlea receives these sounds and processes and converts them into electrical impulses.

  • These converted sound signals are then transferred to the brain via the auditory nerve.

  • The brain on receiving them translates them as sounds which are then perceived by us. This is the moment when we can actually ‘hear’.

However, apart from hearing, the vestibular system situated in our inner ear is also responsible for body balance and equilibrium. This is why hearing loss is often associated with vertigo and balance problems.

Our ear is, therefore, an important organ of our body. Damage caused to it would bring about many health conditions.

Consult a certified audiologist to get your hearing test done from time to time, to avoid any complications. An untreated hearing loss might have a great impact on one’s life. Treat any hearing problem on time and never delay in getting proper treatment of hearing loss.

If you want to learn more about hearing loss and the various hearing loss treatment options available, this article might help: Hearing Loss Treatment Center.

Discuss with your audiologist and learn about the different hearing aids types and the hearing aid price list before you buy hearing aids. Consider going through this article: https://hearingplus.in/cheapest-hearing-aids-india/

Protect Your Unborn Baby Against Hearing Loss

Friday, August 16, 2019 5:09:15 PM Asia/Calcutta

Yes, your baby might have a risk of developing hearing loss even before birth! While some causes aren’t quite preventable, some others can really be prevented and are completely in your hands. Many a time the cause of hearing loss in the baby in your womb is due to a lack of carefulness and caution. You as a mother must make it a point to take care of your baby in every possible way. Always remember, a healthy you mean a healthy baby!

However, simply talking about the mother’s health would be wrong. The health of the father matters equally and therefore, both the parents must follow healthy habits to avoid any complications of the baby - including hearing. Because leading a healthy lifestyle is key to protect your child’s hearing health, which is much better than hearing loss treatment. Always keep this in mind that if a baby is born with permanent hearing impairment, no treatment of hearing loss can ever replace it with the natural hearing of an individual.

Let Not Your Unborn Baby Suffer

Factors Affecting Hearing Health in the Fetus

Certain health conditions of the mother do affect the hearing health of the child during pregnancy. For instance, suppose if a mother has some infections, then certain viruses or infections can get transferred down to the fetus. However, apart from health conditions, there are certain unhealthy habits that might damage the hearing of your baby, such as smoking, alcohol intake, not maintaining a proper and balanced diet, and other such detrimental lifestyle habits. Let’s have a look at how these habits or health conditions hamper the hearing development of the fetus.

 

Unhealthy Habits

  • Smoking and Intake of alcoholic beverages - Toxins from cigarettes and alcoholic drinks are very harmful to hearing as well as the overall health of the child. These substances reduce the cell formation of the fetus which affects the hearing organs, which remain underdeveloped for life. The child in such a case is born with fewer auditory sensory cells than its peers with normal hearing development, thus increasing the risks of hearing loss caused due to noise exposure or aging.

  • Not following a balanced and healthy diet - Malnutrition leads to the underdevelopment of the fetus - including hearing. If a woman doesn’t maintain a good and healthy diet as advised by the doctor, the hearing organs and cells won’t develop properly, thereby increasing the risks of hearing loss both during the fetus stage and after birth.

  • Exposure to loud noises - Even in the mother’s uterus, the baby is highly vulnerable to noise. The hearing mechanism of the fetus is fully developed after 20 weeks of conception and is quite unprotected. If a woman is exposed to high decibels of noise for most of the day or for a significant amount of time, it is highly possible that her baby will be born with noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Studies show that exposure to loud noises during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery. Also, increased noise levels can cause stress which can cause changes in a pregnant woman's body. This can affect her developing baby in her womb. It is because sound can travel through your body and reach your unborn baby. Although this sound will be muffled in the womb, very loud noises might still be able to damage your baby's hearing even in the pre-natal stage.

 

Health Conditions

  • Rubella (German Measles) - It is an infection that affects the skin and lymph nodes and is caused by a virus. If a pregnant woman is affected by the infection, then it can have serious effects on the child, thus affecting the hearing health of the baby.

  • Measles - This can spread easily, causing rash, fever, cough and hearing loss.

  • Herpes - Studies show that four out of five children born of mothers infected with the herpes virus during early pregnancy might develop hearing loss.

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) - This is a common virus that can pass over to the fetus from an infected pregnant woman. This is known as congenital CMV which is a leading cause of non-genetic hearing loss, thus affecting speech and language developmental skills.

  • Toxoplasmosis - This infection, often caused by undercooked meat or touching cat poop, causes problems like headaches, body aches, fever, fatigue and hearing loss.

Sadly, some congenital hearing loss (which is present at birth) cannot be prevented. However, following a proper and well-planned hearing loss treatment schedule can help you manage your child’s hearing loss better - especially in the generation of a technological boom. Today’s advanced hearing loss treatment methods like the updated digital hearing aid machine and cochlear implants can help your child develop speech and language skills on time at par with the developmental milestones.

To learn more about factors causing hearing loss during pregnancy, visit this link: https://www.hear-it.org/Protect-your-unborn-baby-against-hearing-loss

 

How to Prevent Your Baby from Developing Hearing Loss?

Now that you are aware of the possible factors affecting the hearing health of your baby in your womb, let’s talk about some preventive measures that can help you protect your child’s hearing health.

  • Quit smoking immediately. Not only you as a pregnant woman should quit smoking (if you have the habit), but you must also ask your family members in your home or other people you are living with to do so - because second-hand smoking is much more dangerous. Motivate them to quit smoking and make them realise that it is harmful to your baby. Every individual must keep this in mind and be responsible.

  • No alcohol intake. Similar is the case with alcoholic drinks. Quit them during pregnancy. It is harmful to both your baby and yourself.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

  • Maintain a proper and balanced diet. Talk to your paediatrician or a mother and child healthcare specialist about the good foods and the bad ones. Also discuss your health conditions (if any), so that he or she might set a proper diet chart for you.

  • Avoid being exposed to loud noises. If you have the habit of listening to loud music for hours together, then it’s high time that you must drop it at once! Yes, of course, you will listen to music - it is good for your health as it brings mental peace and calm. But if you do so for hours without a break or without controlling the volume, even that soothing music might turn dangerous for your baby! Make it a habit to reduce the timing and volume of the music.

  • Treat any health condition or infectious diseases at once. Being an expecting mother, never delay or ignore any health issue. Get proper treatment right away. Certain diseases or infections can be carried down to the fetus and might affect its hearing.

  • Avoid taking ototoxic medications.  Certain medications are toxic for the fetus. Consult your doctor and child specialist before taking any medicine.

Prevention is better than any hearing loss treatment. A little care makes a huge difference!

Are you aware of any other causes or preventive measures to protect your baby’s hearing during pregnancy? Tell us in the comment box below.

Also, tell us if you like informative blogs like these. You are also free to recommend if you have a topic in mind and you want us to cover any subject.

Meniere's Disease and Hearing Loss

Saturday, August 3, 2019 1:14:02 PM Asia/Calcutta

What is Meniere’s Disease?

Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that typically starts in one ear in most cases, but later might affect both. The most common symptom of this condition is vertigo (dizziness) or having a sensation that everything around the person with vertigo is spinning.

Symptoms of Meniere’s Disease

The common symptoms of Meniere’s disease include -

  • Episodes of dizziness or vertigo

  • Nausea, vomiting and sweating

  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears

  • Having a feeling of fullness

  • Hearing loss

  • Balance problems

  • Headaches

 

What are the Causes?

The exact causes of Meniere’s disease are still unknown. It occurs when there is an abnormal amount of fluid buildup in the inner ear. But why that happens still needs to be found out.

However, the possible reasons that might affect the fluid, thus contributing to Meniere’s disease include -

  • Improper fluid drainage

  • Viral infection

  • Immune problems

  • Genetic conditions

How is Hearing Loss Linked with Meniere’s?

Since Meniere’s disease affects the inner ear which comprises the main auditory organ that is responsible for hearing - the cochlea, the hearing ability of the individual gets affected as well. Unfortunately, Meniere’s disease cannot be cured, a number of treatments like medications and rehabilitation can help reduce the severity of the condition and control the episodes of vertigo. However, the hearing problems associated with the disease can’t be cured. Hearing loss in such cases can be treated with the help of a hearing aid machine which would only help you to listen better.

It is always advised to consult a professional Audiologist before taking any decision. A good hearing loss treatment is extremely important to live a better quality of life. Digital hearing aids are always better than analog ones, as they provide better sound quality and hearing experience. A good quality hearing aid machine will support you for years!

Understanding Your Hearing Aid Machine

Thursday, July 11, 2019 5:22:50 PM Asia/Calcutta

You are having difficulties in hearing and therefore, you thought that now you should buy hearing aids and made it a habit of wearing them regularly. Bravo, you have been doing great till now! But do you often think that you can get back your natural hearing? Yes, hearing aids have the ability to enable you to hear better.

No doubt hearing aids are the most widely used and are quite effective as a hearing loss treatment solution. But hearing aids do no more than simply amplifying the sounds as they receive. If you think that by wearing a hearing aid machine your hearing will be restored, then you would be wrong. An ear hearing device uses your residual hearing, that is your remaining hearing ability to amplify the sounds and to enable you to hear.

 

Why is it So?

Let’s get into the basics of the human ear structure. Well, you know that the human ear is divided into three parts, namely the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. 

If we take a closer look into the inner ear, we find the spiral-shaped cochlea situated in the rigid bony labyrinth situated in the outer wall of the inner ear. Inside the cochlea, we have thousands of tiny hair-like structures called hair cells - 3,500 inner hair cells and 12,000 outer hair cells. These tiny hair cells are very sensitive and once damaged, they could never be recovered.

 

How Do We Hear?

Let’s quickly summarise the whole complex procedure of hearing and the functioning of the human ear into some basic steps. The sound waves are received by the outer ear which after travelling down the long passage of the ear canal strike against the eardrum or the tympanic membrane and cause it to vibrate. These vibrations are then transferred to the ear ossicles or the small ear bones which further passes them over to the inner ear. The hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear convert these sound stimuli into electrical impulses which are then sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. The brain understands and recognises these signals as sounds, and only then can we actually ‘hear’. Although this whole process occurs within a fraction of seconds, yet it is quite a complex one and involves many other by-processes and chemical reactions.

 

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

A hearing aid machine typically has three parts - a microphone which picks up the sounds, an amplifier which makes the sound louder and a receiver which sends the amplified sounds to the ear canal of the user. Yes, the modern digital hearing aids are advanced and takes the listening experience to a whole new level by transmitting the sound signals to a computer chip which adjusts the pitch and volume by working with discrete sections of the sound frequency according to the hearing requirements of the hearing aid machine user. But no matter how smart and intelligent your digital hearing aids are, your natural hearing ability won’t be recovered. It is because the hair cells once damaged won’t be regenerated again!

 

Analog or Digital?

Of course, digital hearing aids! While the old hearing aid machine users who are comfortable in using the analog devices of the previous few decades and would say that these devices are really well, we would suggest one and all to try out digital hearing aids. They are designed to enhance your hearing ability. And what’s more? The updated digital devices are packed with so many features that would cater to your individual needs and lifestyle preferences, thus making your life much easier. Also, they are much more user-friendly with easy programmable options and buttons. And not to forget the sleek designs and extremely small sizes which are absolutely lovable.

The maximum that can be done is that your Audiologist can fine-tune your hearing aid machine or filter out the wind or other background noises, and make some certain program upgradation. The digital hearing aids can thus match with your specific hearing loss pattern and customise your listening experience. You can also directly stream audio, take calls and even adjust your program settings using smartphone apps.

Here is a post on the different features one would get in the modern-day digital hearing aids: ‘Latest Technologies Used in Modern Day Digital Hearing Aids’. You can also go through another blog of ours on ‘7 Must-have Features in Your Digital Hearing Aids

 

Factors that Affect the Success of a Hearing Aid Machine

Whether or not your hearing aid would work for you depends upon a variety of factors. These include -

  • The type and severity of hearing loss

  • Your lifestyle choices

  • Whether you have ear infections

  • Your dexterity and ease of use

  • Whether you have been ignoring your hearing problems for a long time

  • Whether you have lost your hearing before learning a language or after it

  • Whether you are going to use it on a regular basis as and when suggested by your Audiologist

You can check out our blog on ‘Does Hearing Aid Machine Work for Everyone?’ for more information on this topic.

 

Which Would be the Right Hearing Aids Types for Me?

The main types of hearing aids include -

  • BTE or Behind-the-Ear

  • Power BTE

  • RIC or Receiver-in-the-Canal

  • ITE or In-the-Ear

  • ITC or In-the-Canal

  • CIC or Completely-in-the-Canal

  • IIC or Invisible-in-the-Canal

Each has its pros and cons. Do check out the advantages and disadvantages of each of the hearing aids types in our previously written blog: ‘Advantages and Disadvantages of Hearing Aids Types

 

Now that you are aware of what each hearing aid device has in store for you, you can shortlist them by analysing which one would match your needs. Of course, consider discussing with your Audiologist throughout this important decision-making process at a recognised hearing aid clinic near you.

 

Some Buying Tips

With so many features in today’s digital hearing aids, one would get really confused as to which device to go for. Don’t worry! We are here to help you out. Here is a guide for the hearing aid buyer: ‘10 Tips for Buying Hearing Aids

 

Care and Maintenance Tips

Things wouldn’t just end once you buy hearing aids. Your devices need to be taken care of. The more you take care of them, the more they would take care of your hearing. We have a separate blog on ‘Are You Taking Care of Your Hearing Aids?’. Do check it out, it might be helpful.

 

What If You Meet Hearing Aid Disasters?

While you might try your best to take care of your new hearing aids, accidents are sure to happen. In such cases, we don’t want you to panic. Instead, we have for you a guide to how to cope up and deal with these situations: ‘5 Common Hearing Aid Disasters: How to Deal With Them?

 

For more help, check out the blog post from Consumer Reports. It has got some wonderful information and would be a complete guide for the hearing aid buyer: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/hearing-aids/buying-guide/index.htm

 

To sum up, you are definitely going to hear and do so quite well, but you won’t get back your normal hearing ability, that is, you can’t hear with using a hearing aid machine.

Does Hearing Aid Machine Work for Everyone?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 7:01:55 PM Asia/Calcutta

Yes, there are so many success rates with hearing aids all over the world, but do you know that not everybody is benefitted from them? This is because each and every individual’s hearing needs are different and therefore, would naturally require a different kind of treatment for his or her hearing problems. While people with mild to moderate degree of hearing loss can well be benefitted with hearing aids, those with a severe to a profound degree of loss won’t find a hearing aid machine quite beneficial. However, there are other options for hearing loss treatment such as cochlear implants or middle ear implants.

Hearing aids are no doubt the most widely used hearing devices and have really been a great hearing loss treatment with effective solutions. But they don’t always prove to be fruitful for many users. This is because the basic role of any hearing aid machine is to simply amplify the sounds as they receive, by making use of the residual hearing. However, in case of severe damage caused to the hearing ability of an individual, not even the advanced digital hearing aids could properly amplify the sounds. On the contrary, the sounds might even appear distorted and ambiguous in such a case.

There are many factors for which a hearing aid machine can fail to give you any benefits. Some of the common causes are -

  • If you have severe to profound degree of sensorineural hearing loss. Most hearing aids are suitable and most effective for people with mild to moderate degree of hearing loss.

  • If you haven’t used any hearing aid machine even after living with untreated hearing loss for many years. Hearing aids are not like glasses; your hearing won’t be restored the moment you put them on. Your brain needs time to adjust to this ‘new’ world of sounds.

  • If you buy cheap hearing aids. Cheap hearing aids won’t be of any good. You may save some money for the time being, but in the long run, you will actually end up spending more!

  • If you use a wrong hearing aid. Not every hearing aid machine would help you hear better. Just because your friend is satisfied with a particular device, there is no surety at all that that machine would suit you. Because your hearing needs are different!

  • If you have ear infections or malformations or defects in the outer or middle ear. Your hearing aids would work only when the outer and the middle ear are properly functioning.

So before you buy hearing aids do consider consulting with your Audiologist. He or she will suggest you the best hearing loss treatment option - be it the modern and advanced digital hearing aids or cochlear implants or others, depending upon the severity of the loss.

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