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How does hearing work?

The ear is the organ that detects sound and helps us to maintain balance. It consists of three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. 

See how it works

Types of hearing loss

When any part of the hearing path is damaged, sound information cannot be properly carried to the brain, resulting in some degree of hearing loss. There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed.

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    Sensorineural hearing loss


    The most common type of hearing loss is caused by problems with the inner ear or nerve pathways. Although sound transmission through the outer and middle ear to the inner ear is normal, this information cannot be coded into electrical signals the brain can use. This case can benefit from an Oticon hearing aid or an Oticon Medical Cochlear Implant System. If you are sigle-sided dedaf, Oticon Medical's Ponto  can also be beneficial.

    1. Auditory nerve

    2. Inner ear

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    Conductive hearing loss


    Conductive hearing loss is caused by a blockage of sound transmission through the outer ear or middle ear. This might be due to conditions such as chronic otitis media, otosclerosis (calcification which reduces mobility of the stapes), malformations of the outer ear or a perforated eardum.
    Conductive hearing loss can be treated in many ways, including using bone anchored hearing systems like Oticon Medical’s Ponto to bypass the middle ear and transmit sounds via vibration to the cochlea

    1. Outer ear

    2. Middle ear

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    Mixed hearing loss


    Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. As an example, a chronic infection could cause mixed hearing loss if it damages the eardrum and the ossicles and prevents the cochlea from functioning properly.

    Individuals who suffer from this type of hearing loss may also benefit from the use of a bone anchored hearing system like Oticon Medical’s Ponto.

    1. Auditory ossicles

    2. Eardrum

    3. Cochlea

Solutions that address hearing loss

Hearing aids are the most common solution for most people suffering from hearing loss. However, if you suffer from damage to the outer or middle ear, also called conductive hearing loss, a bone anchored hearing solution like Ponto may be able to help. If your hearing loss is caused by problems with the inner ear or nerve pathways, you may benefit from a cochlear implant solution like Neuro System.


Which solution is right for you?

 

What do the different parts of the ear do?

 

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  • 1. The outer ear

    The outer ear receives sound and directs direction. It helps you detect where a sound is coming from. It consists of the pinna – the visible part of the ear, and the external auditory canal or meatus.

  • 2. The middle ear

    The middle ear transforms sound so it can easily be detected by the inner ear. The middle ear consists of the eardrum and the ossicles. The eardrum is connected to a chain of three small bones: the malleus, the incus and the stapes. These connect the eardrum to the inner ear. 

  • 3. The inner ear

    The inner ear sends signals to the brain. The cochlea is the snail-shaped part of the inner ear that converts sound vibrations into electrical impulses that are sent via the auditory nerve to the brain. 

When any part of the ear is damaged, sound information cannot be properly carried to the brain, which results in some degree of hearing loss. 

 

 

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How is hearing loss measured?

Hearing impairment is the amount of hearing loss relative to normal hearing for a person’s age and sex. It is measured by audiologists who test the Hearing Level (HL) of each ear using different frequencies. 

Moderate hearing loss

Hearing loss of 40 to 70 dB HL. Moderate sounds cannot be heard. Speech is perceived if the speaker raises his or her voice. Hearing becomes easier if the person can see the speaker. Some familiar sounds are still perceived. 

Severe hearing loss

Hearing loss of 70 to 90 dB HL. Speech is perceived when the speaker speaks loudly and is close to the ear. Only loud sounds are perceived. Following a group conversation is difficult. 

Profound hearing loss

Hearing loss of 90 to 120 dB HL. It is not possible to hear any kind of speech and communication is impossible. Only very loud sounds are perceived. 

Total deafness or cophosis

Above 120 dB HL nothing is perceived. 

Always contact your audiologist if you are worried about hearing loss.

 

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