Know the Basics of Hearing

inserting a hearing aid

In a CDC data, about 17% of the population in Colorado had some hearing loss between 2014 and 2016. It means more people in the state were hard of hearing than in more populated areas, such as California and New York.

Some of these people might then need hearing aids in Denver, Colorado. It can be unsettling or intimidating for those who don’t understand what it is. Should you or your loved ones need it, you can learn to deal with these devices by knowing the basics of hearing.

1. How Does a Person Hear?

The hearing process is straightforward. When a person hears the sound, its waves travel to the middle ear, where the eardrum and the small bones are. They then pass the vibrations to the inner ear, also known as the cochlea. It contains hundreds of hair cells that receive and “feel” the vibrations. They then convert these vibrations into electrical signals that go through the hearing nerves. The brain receives these signals and interprets the sound.

2. What Are the Types of Hearing Loss?

The high percentage of people hard of hearing can be due to the many types of hearing loss. It depends on factors such as the area affected and the cause:

  • Sensorineural – This hearing loss occurs when the damage is in the middle ear, particularly the hair cells. Once they die, they don’t tend to grow back. For this reason, the problem will likely be permanent.
  • Conductive – It is a hearing loss that develops when the middle ear cannot send the vibrations to the inner ear. There are many possible causes for this one, including infection or the buildup of earwax. Once the person treats the root cause, they might be able to restore the hearing. Sometimes, they get back partial hearing. If the infection is severe, they might lose the ability to hear permanently.
  • Mixed – It is a combination of sensorineural and conducting hearing loss. It means that the damage is from the middle to the inner ear.

3. What Are Hearing Aids?

holding an hearing aid

Hearing aids are electrical devices people wear to amplify the sound and, thus, the vibrations. The purpose is to stimulate the remaining hair cells in the inner ear. It does not treat the cause of the loss. By increasing the sound vibrations, they can pick up the sound waves, which they can then convert into electrical signals. In the process, the person can understand the sound or know the source.

Hearing aids are available in different styles, but two of the primary categories are behind the ear and in-ear. The latter might be small to fit into the ear canal.

The main advantage of the in-ear hearing aids is that they are less visible. They are also much closer to the inner ear. The downside is that they are small, so they cannot amplify the sound as loud as the behind-the-ear types. They might not be ideal for people with severe hearing loss.

Behind-the-ear hearing aids are visible and feature a plastic mold, but since the parts are outside, they are easy to modify and remove. They are excellent for people with mild to severe hearing loss.

Like any medical device, hearing aids are not for everyone. Only a hearing specialist, though, can help the person decide. To be sure, always work with an expert who can also help you choose the right aid for your needs.