It’s hard to deny it – our ears are fascinating organs. Sometimes it’s difficult to fathom how something so tiny and intricate is our gateway to communication and sound. The ability to hear plays a major role in our lives and connects us to the world around us. When that gateway becomes blocked, sound can’t get through and it remains unheard.
This is a simple description of conductive hearing loss. To understand it in greater detail, let’s explore how hearing works and the reasons why conductive hearing loss can affect your hearing.
How hearing works
In order to hear sound, it needs a starting point (the person or thing making the sound) and an ending point (your brain). Once the sound is created, it goes on a journey through the air and then it reaches your outer ear, which gathers the sound and sends it into your ear canal. It quickly meets your eardrum, a thin cone-shaped membrane that divides your outer and middle ear.
The sound hits the eardrum and causes it to vibrate. These vibrations activate three tiny bones within the middle ear and they send the vibrations further along into the inner ear. They travel through the inner ear’s complex maze and are converted into electrical signals. The signals reach the brain via the auditory nerve. Your brain processes the incoming information and the sound is understood. This journey, from start to finish, only takes 1/20 of a second.
Conductive hearing loss
If you have a conductive hearing loss, the sound’s journey does not go exactly to plan. The sound is created and easily finds its way into the outer ear but something in the ear canal or middle ear prevents it from reaching the inner ear. Therefore, it never completes its journey to your brain.
Here are several common causes of conductive hearing loss:
- Earwax – the most common obstruction. Excessive earwax can build up and close off the ear canal.
- Ear infections
- A ruptured or perforated eardrum
- Cysts and tumors
- Diseases that can affect the middle ear’s bony structure
Fortunately, medication and/or surgery can resolve most cases of conductive hearing loss and your hearing will return to normal. Hearing aids can help if your hearing loss can’t be reversed.
Symptoms of conductive hearing loss
You’ll notice a change in your ability to hear. Sounds will seem different – more muffled and unclear. Even your voice might sound strange to you.
You may find that you need to increase the volume on the TV, and phone conversations are more difficult to understand. Sometimes ear pain or pressure can also accompany conductive hearing loss.
What should you do next?
If you are concerned that you may have a conductive hearing loss, Big Thicket Hearing Aids & Audilogy is here to help. You can book a hearing test by calling 409-227-0284 or by clicking here. We’ll thoroughly review your hearing, determine the cause of your hearing loss, and provide the treatment you need.
Dr. Joni Ruiz is the owner and Doctor of Audiology at Big Thicket Hearing Aids and Audiology. She earned her doctorate of audiology in 2009 from Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. Selected for a prestigious fourth-year externship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Dr. Ruiz has more than ten years’ experience as an Audiologist. She has a heart for patient-centered care. At her hearing care practice, she performs comprehensive diagnostic audiological evaluations, provides aural rehabilitation to her patients and their loved ones, dispenses state of the art hearing aids, and manages the care of said devices for their life. Dr. Ruiz is dedicated to patient education regarding hearing loss, hearing protection, and hearing aid selection.