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Originally Posted On: https://ed.ted.com/on/PUDJt7Ob#digdeeper
Hearing loss is rarely something that happens overnight, but rather is something that develops gradually over time.
Did you know that it only takes the loss of one decibel in a person’s hearing range in order to adversely affect their ability to communicate? That means that if they were able to hear sounds at 100dB and then they lost the ability to hear sounds at 99dB, then they would have a hard time communicating.
There are several different types of hearing loss that people can suffer from, including conductive, sensorineural and mixed hearing losses. Conductive hearing loss is generally caused by damage to the outer ear structures or middle ear structures.
Sensorineural hearing loss happens when one’s cochlea or auditory nerve is damaged. Mixed hearing loss occurs when both the inner ear structures and the auditory nerve are damaged.
People aren’t always aware that they’re suffering from any type of hearing loss until their friends mention it to them by pointing out how frequently they mishear what was being said. If this has happened to you or a loved one, you may have a hearing loss. The first step to detecting your hearing loss is to undergo an audiology evaluation, which can be done at the local ear clinic.
During this process, you will be asked about any symptoms you might have been experiencing when it comes to your ears. You’ll also have a brief physical examination in order to determine if there are any signs of conductive or sensorineural damage. Next, the audiologist will test your auditory acuity through a series of hearing tests that examine how well you can hear low and high pitched sounds. If they suspect that the loss is because of damage in both ears , they may recommend having a binaural hearing test performed, which means that each ear is tested.
The results will then be explained to you and your audiologist will also discuss possible treatments. They might recommend things like hearing aids or cochlear implants for those who cannot be helped with medical management (e.g., stopping smoking is a common recommendation). This process can take anywhere from about 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the extent of the damage and your general health.
If you’ve been exposed to loud noise, whether it’s because of work or play , the easiest way to protect your ears is by wearing earplugs.They’re inexpensive and reusable and they can provide up to 24-27db of protection at frequencies between 125hz and 4000hz – sounds that are mostly inaudible but which still pose a threat if exposure lasts long enough.
If you have a job that exposes you to noise, you’re probably already using them. If not, there are a number of different types of earplugs you can get; which one is best for different situations?
An earplug reduces the volume of sound reaching your ear by stopping up your auditory canal (the hole in your head through which sound waves travel).
So while it seems like all these plugs block sound completely, they don’t. And since various sound frequencies pose different risks to your hearing health, some plugs do so more than others. For instance: Earplugs that reduce high-pitched sounds should reduce risk to the auditory nerve and cochlea but still leave you able to hear speech;earplugs that block low-pitched sounds—like those made by infrasonic machinery, like bass drums and subwoofers—are likely to reduce your ability to hear speech as well.
Earplugs can be made of either soft plastic (polyvinyl chloride or polyurethane) or slow-recovery foam, so the right material is important too.
If you’re unsure about the best way to protect your hearing, always speak to an audiologist.