Providing hearing solutions to people in the Illawarra

Wollongong Office: (02) 4228 3320
Shellharbour Office: (02) 4295 6600

Hearing works this wayHow does hearing work?

The process of hearing is quite often taken for granted and perhaps misunderstood what mechanics actually take place. Hearing the sounds of the world relies on a series of events and can be weakened or lost through a failure or a fault in the series.

Noise

Loud sounds from engines, power tools, gunfire, disco music, can produce noise induced deafness. A sudden blast can rupture the ear-drum but much more harm is done to the inner ear by loud and continuous sounds which a person can feel he or she is accustomed to. The damage is done to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea.

Hearing protection should be worn, where possible, in all noisy occupational and recreational situations. Noise damage will increase the chances of hearing loss in later years.

Wax

Wax is secreted to protect the ear. To start with tiny white droplets form to provide a barrier to infection and clearing foreign bodies that may accumulate in the ear. The white droplets harden and change colour to yellow or brown appearing wax like. Wax should be left alone and never dug out with a match, cotton buds or hairclip. If you are worried about heavy wax build-up then you should see your doctor.

If you suspect you may have a build up of wax in your ears it is advisable to see your GP first in order to have it removed as blocked ears can affect your hearing.

The sequence starts at the visible part of the ear which carries vibrations (sound) in the air to the ear-drum.

  1. The outer ear’s function is to collect sounds and feed them into the ear.
  2. The middle ear then transmits vibrations of the drum through a series of tiny bones to the inner ear, where the vibrations are translated into nerve impulses.
  3. The auditory nerve transmits these impulses to the brain where they are analysed and recognised as sounds.

The inner ear is an extremely complicated mechanism. Primarily, it is composed of fluid and a thin membrane of tiny hairs which are housed in the cochlea and connect directly to a multitude of nerve endings which join together to form the auditory nerve. This is where sounds are recognised.

A note played on a violin may be the same as a note played on a piano but the brain via the inner ear can recognise the difference.

Problems in the external and middle ear causing hearing loss, can often be cured. The main cause of hearing loss, especially in the later years, is trouble in the inner ear.

Hearing Loss

If you can hear sounds then your are not deaf. If you have some hearing, even if it is a significant hearing loss then something can be done to make it better.

Referral is not necessary to come and see us. Please ring (02)  42283320 for an appointment

Images provided by Oticon