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Hearing Problems


Outer ear

  • The external part of the ear (pinna) and the ear canal (external auditory meat us) collect sound and direct it inward.

Middle ear

  • The eardrum (tympanic membrane) and three small bones (ossicles) convert incoming into vibrations.

Inner ear
  • The fluid-filled inner ear (cochlea) contains highly sensitive hair cells that move in response to vibrations. The auditory nerve transmits sound information from the hair cells to the hearing center of the brain.
  • Sound is collected by the ear and funneled through the ear canal to the eardrum.
  • The eardrum converts incoming sound into vibrations.
  • The chain of bones (ossicles) is set into motion by vibrations, passing them on to the cochlea.
  • The fluid in the cochlea begins to move, stimulating the hair cells.
  • The hair cells create electrical signals which are picked up by the auditory nerve. Hair cells at one end of the cochlear send low pitch sound information.
  • The brain receives the signal from the auditory nerve and interprets it as sound.


  • An audiogram is a graph that illustrates a person's usable hearing and the amount of hearing loss for each ear. Each sound has a certain pitch, referred to as is its frequency. The loudness or intensity of a sound is measured in units called decibels (dB)

  • In the audiogram below, the top of the grid show pitch (frequency) of sound, from low to high pitch. The loudness (intensity) of sound is measured from soft to loud (top to bottom).

  • When testing hearing, the audiologist presents sounds, one frequency at a time. The softest tone at which a person can hear at each frequency is marked on the audiogram at that frequency and intensity. This is called the hearing threshold.

Types of hearing loss
  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Sensor neural hearing loss
  • Neural hearing loss
  • Any problem in the outer or middle ear that prevents the ear from conducting sound properly is known as a conductive hearing loss,
  • Conductive losses are usually mild or moderate in nature, causing hearing losses of up to about 60 or 70 decibels.
  • In some cases, conductive hearing losses can be temporary. In many cases, medication or surgery can help, depending on the specific cause of the problem.
  • Conductive hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids.
  • A problem in the cochlea (inner ear) can cause sensor neural hearing loss. Sensor neural hearing loss results from missing or damaged sensory cells (hair cells) in the cochlea and is usually permanent.
  • Also known as nerve deafness, sensor neural hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe or profound.
  • Surgical procedures cannot cure sensor neural hearing loss. Medication may be helpful in some cases.
  • Mild to severe sensor neural hearing loss can usually be helped with hearing aids.
  • Severe or profound hearing loss can usually be helped with cochlear implants.
  • A problem that results in the absence of or damage to the auditory nerve can cause a neural hearing loss.
  • Neural hearing loss is a profound hearing loss and is permanent.
  • Hearing aids and cochlear implants cannot help, because the nerve is not able to pass on enough sound information to the brain.
  • An auditory brainstem implant (ABI) may help in some cases

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