Cause Of Hearing loss


According to the survey there are about 9 million people who are deaf or hard of hearing in the United Kingdom. Most of them have lost their hearing capacity with the increasing age. Over half of people aged over 60 are hard of hearing or are deaf. Hearing loss can also occur at a younger age. There are about 123,000 people over 16 who were born hearing but have developed severe or profound deafness.

Ear- a sensitive organ

Sound consists of vibrations of air in the form of waves. The ear is able to pick up these vibrations and convert them into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. In the brain, these signals are translated into meaningful information, such as language or music with qualities like volume and pitch. The volume of sound is measured in decibels (dB). The ear consists of three parts:

1) The Outer Ear: It is the visible portion of the ear on either side of the head and includes the ear canals that go into the head. The fleshy parts of the outer ear act as collectors of sound waves, which then travel down the ear canal to the eardrum. This is a membrane of tissue that separates the outer ear from the middle ear.
2) The Middle ear: The sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate. This vibration is passť on to the middle ear, which consists of bones called ossicles. These amplify and conduct the vibrations of the eardrum to the inner ear.
3) The Inner ear: The inner ear consists of an organ called the cochlea, which is shaped like a snail's shell. The cochlea contains tiny cells called hair cells which move in response to the vibrations passed from the ossicles. The movement of these hair cells generates an electrical signal that is transmitted to the brain through the auditory nerve.

Causes of hearing loss

There are many possible causes of hearing loss. These can be divided into two basic types:

1) Conductive hearing loss: It is caused by anything that interferes with the transmission of sound from the outer ear to the inner ear. Possible causes can be middle ear infections, collection of fluid in the middle ear, blockage of the outer ear, damage to the ear drum by infection or an injury, and growth of the surrounding bone.
2) Sensorineural hearing loss: It is caused due to damage to the pathway for sound impulses from the hair cells of the inner ear to the auditory nerve and the brain. Possible causes includes age-related hearing loss, acoustic trauma, viral infections of the inner ear, Meniere's disease, certain drugs affecting the hair cells, viral infections, brain tumor, and a stroke.

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