The sole purpose of your outer ear is to collect sound. It sends the sound down your ear canal to your eardrum. The eardrum starts to vibrate which causes the 3 bones (the 3 smallest bones in your body) in your middle ear to vibrate. The vibrations are transferred to your inner ear where millions of tiny hair cells respond and send the information to your brain. Your brain then processes and makes sense of the information it received.
Any time there is a change in hearing clarity and understanding, there is a hearing health problem. When certain sounds are missing, your brain is not getting all of the stimulation it needs to process and make sense of the sounds it’s receiving.
There are two types of hearing problems. One is medically or surgically treatable. One is treatable with sound and hearing devices customized for you.
Hearing problems can affect anyone at any age. It is naturally more common as we get older because we’ve exposed our ears to more noise throughout our lifetime. Interestingly, since the advent of personal listening systems (IPods, MP3 players), nearly as many teenagers have hearing problems as 60 year olds!
Because you’re not deaf, and can actually hear ok…sometimes, it’s difficult to know if there’s really a problem. Remember, most people with hearing problems hear fine; they just don’t understand…the voices aren’t clear. That’s why it takes so long to recognize that you really have a significant hearing issue…even though your spouse, kids, and friends have been telling you for years.
Two or more YES answers indicate a possible hearing deficit. Early detection and treatment is essential to preserve brain processing. You should have a baseline hearing checkup.