The outer ear consists of the pinna and external ear canal. These structures gather sound and direct it towards the ear drum. The middle ear consists of the ear drum and three very small bones – the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. These structures act as a transformer, converting air vibrations in the external canal, to mechanical vibration in the middle ear. The inner ear contains thousands of microscopic nerve endings bathed in fluid. These nerve endings transform the hydraulic energy into electrical impulses that travel along the auditory nerve into the brain where sound is interpreted and given meaning.
A Conductive Hearing Loss may result from wax or infection in the external ear canal, from a hole in the ear drum, from middle ear infection, or from disease or trauma to any of the three middle ear bones. Conductive hearing losses are usually medically or surgically treatable by a physician known as an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Specialist.A person with a conductive hearing loss may not hear speech loud enough. Once there is sufficient volume, words are usually understood. A conductive loss may be present at birth, it may be stable or get progressively worse over time, or it may fluctuate. Usually patients with conductive losses do not lose their hearing completely. If a conductive loss cannot be helped medically or surgically, hearing aids usually provide significant help.A Sensorineural Hearing Loss may be inherited; it may be caused by birth trauma, viral illness, head injury, or a number of other medical conditions. Excessive noise exposure and ageing are the most common causes.A nerve loss is usually not medically or surgically treatable. The hearing loss may remain stable or it may gradually worsen. Complete deafness rarely occurs. A person with a nerve loss can almost always be helped with prescription fit hearing aids and a self-help program provided by an Audiologist.People with nerve losses state that they can hear people talking but cannot understand the words clearly. They usually hear better in quiet environments than in background noise. They may have difficulty understanding TV and may turn the volume up. Individuals with nerve losses usually understand some people better than others depending on the tone of the voice. As the hearing worsens they may accuse others of mumbling or they may become frustrated and / or embarrassed. In some cases, personality and life style changes occur.Tinnitus is a sound heard in one ear, both ears, or in the brain itself that can be high pitched ringing, buzzing, hissing, or any one of a dozen other noises. Tinnitus varies in loudness from being barely noticeable only in a quiet room, or it can be loud enough to be distracting. It can begin suddenly or gradually. It can be present 24 hours a day or it can be intermittent.