Our physicians spent years learning the science behind human hearing. While we cannot condense their vast knowledge into a few short paragraphs, we want to give you a glimpse inside the process of human hearing. The hearing process can be broken down into 6 primary steps, which are:
When a sound is produced, these waves are transferred into your ear canal. This causes your eardrum to move.
VIBRATIONS PASS EARDRUM
After sound waves reach your eardrum, it will vibrate. The vibrations are different, depending on which sound waves enter your eardrum.
VIBRATIONS REACH COCHLEA
Ultimately, the vibrations will reach your cochlea. This is where the real magic happens.
The cochlea contains fluid. When the vibrations caused by sound waves reach the cochlea, this fluid moves. The fluid transfer is likened to ocean waves crashing into the shore.
THE AUDITORIY NERVE IS STIMULATED
The fluid in the cochlea will eventually reach hair cells in the auditory nerve. This nerve will pick up on any recognizable neural signals created by these cells. Some hair cells transfer high pitches, while others detect low pitch sound information.
THE BRAIN HEARS
That’s right – technically, your brain does the hearing! Your auditory nerve sends signals to your brain. It translates these signals into meaningful and recognizable sounds, such as a loved one speaking your name.
WHEN DO YOU NEED A HEARING TEST?
Generally, it is recommended that adults have their hearing tested in 10-year intervals until they turn 50 years old. After hitting this milestone, they should get a hearing test every three years.
About 14% of adults ages 45 to 64 have some hearing loss and approximately one-third of adults over age 65 experience auditory decline. Anyone that is showing signs of hearing damage should also schedule a hearing test.
HOW A HEARING TEST CAN HELP
Before our physicians can appropriately treat you, they must first understand the extent of your hearing damage. Hearing tests show which types of sounds you are having trouble detecting and how severe the problem has become. After they have performed necessary diagnostic testing, our staff can provide you with a data-backed treatment plan.
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH A HEARING TEST
There are three types of hearing tests that we perform at American Hearing and Balance. They include:
An audiometric test usually lasts less than half an hour. You will be placed in a soundproof room and provided with earplugs or headphones. Our equipment will emit sounds at various volumes and pitches. You will provide feedback when you hear a sound by pressing a button.
A tympanometry is an auditory diagnostic test that measures the function of your eardrum and middle ear. Our staff measures the air pressure within your ear canal, which should change as you hear a tone. The results are presented in a tympanogram, which is a special graph.
OTOACOUSTIC EMISSIONS (OAE) TEST
An OAE test is used to check the performance and function of your inner ear. This is the part of your ear that contains the cochlea. Our staff will put a small earphone in your ear. The probe emits sounds and measures the output of your cochlea, which we monitor throughout the exam.
UNDERSTANDING THE RESULTS OF A HEARING TEST
When we’re reviewing your results, our staff members will assess several factors. Unlike some other exams, hearing tests are not pass/fail. Instead, we measure your degree of hearing loss.
The first tool we use is an audiogram. This is a graph that shows the results of a pure-tone diagnostic test. It displays the volume that was required for you to hear certain frequencies.
The frequency of a sound is measured in hertz. Higher frequency means that the sound wave repeats itself more rapidly. Our staff will also utilize decibels to understand your results. Decibels are used to measure the volume or power of a sound.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
After reviewing your results, our staff will be able to make an accurate diagnosis. They will also provide you with a custom treatment plan. This plan may involve protecting your remaining ability to hear. For patients with substantial hearing loss, our staff might also prescribe hearing aids.
Unfortunately, hearing loss is more prevalent in older adults. Even when this hearing loss is apparent, it can be tough to talk a loved one into seeing an audiologist. It may be hard for them to admit that they need help or to accept a decline in physical abilities.
Many patients and their loved ones are extremely satisfied with the welcoming environment that we have created at American Hearing and Balance. Our inviting office space may make it easier for you to talk to a resistant family member about seeking treatment.
While our skilled audiologists in Los Angeles can treat hearing loss, not even the most expert doctor can repair the damage to your ear’s core components. That is why you must protect your ears if you work or live in a noisy environment.
Occupational-related hearing loss is some of the most common. High-risk professions include:
However, occupational hearing loss is not the only group that needs to protect their ears proactively. Popular recreational activities can also endanger your hearing. A few examples include:
Surfers and Swimmers
We offer specialty swimming ear plugs for surfers and swimmers who may experience repeated ear infections or Surfer’s Ear due to frequent exposure to cold water and windy conditions. A condition known as exostosis, or Surfers’ Ear, can develop where bone begins to grow in the ear canal if the ears are not protected while surfing. Swimmers, too, can benefit from using custom swim plugs to prevent ear infections.
Fortunately, American Hearing and Balance can help you protect your ability to hear. We offer custom hearing protection solutions as well as custom molds for iPods, and earplugs for sleeping. We even sell musician’s plugs and monitors.
Contact our team to learn more and find out if custom hearing protection is right for you.
Typically, ear wax will clear out on its own. However, disruptions to the natural movement of the wax can cause it to build up in your ear canal. That is especially common in patients who wear hearing aids.
American Hearing and Balance offers ear wax management services to help prevent complications. We recommend that patients using hearing aids receive ear wax cleaning and hearing aid deep cleaning every six months. Doing so can protect them from additional hearing loss or infection.