At Accurate Hearing we are committed to providing top quality hearing health care at an affordable price. Our staff members are well trained to provide you with guidance and counselling from the initial assessment through treatment. Whether it be through education about hearing loss, provision of hearing aids and assistive listening devices or coping strategies, our goal is to empower you to take back control of your life through better hearing.
Types of Hearing Loss:
There are many factors that can lead to different types of hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of hearing loss in adults. It is a result of damage to the inner ear or the nerves from the ear to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss is a permanent condition which cannot be treated medically or surgically.
The effects of sensorineural hearing loss are twofold. First there is a reduction in sound level so that faint to moderate sounds become difficult to hear. There is also a reduction in clarity. This makes speech very difficult to comprehend even when the speaker is loud enough to be heard.
The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are aging and noise exposure. Other causes include viruses, birth injury, head trauma, genetic syndromes, tumors, and drugs that are toxic to the auditory system.
Conductive Hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs from damage or blockage in the outer or middle ear. With this type of hearing loss sound is conducted less efficiently through the outer and middle ear space resulting in a reduction in sound level. This type of hearing loss can sometimes be corrected medically.
Common causes of conductive hearing loss include cerumen (wax) buildup in the ear canal, infection in the ear canal, infection or fluid in the middle ear, eardrum perforation, foreign bodies, damage to the middle ear bones or ossicles, and absence or malformation of the outer and middle ear.
Mixed Hearing Loss
A mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. That is, damage to the outer, middle, inner ear and nerve can occur together.
Noise exposure and hearing loss:
Noise damage is the result of long term or repeated exposure to moderate and loud sounds such as industrial machinery or music. It can also occur after a single exposure to a very loud sound such as and explosion or gun shot. The effects of noise exposure are permanent.
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) results from damage to the hair cells in the inner ear (cochlea). Once these cells are damaged they do not regenerate. The result of such damage includes decreased hearing for soft sound, decreased speech clarity, and difficulty hearing in noise. Prolonged exposure to noise over 85 dB can result in permanent NIHL. Following are considered safe levels of exposure:
8 hours at 85 dB
4 hours at 88 dB
2 hours at 91 dB
1 hour at 94 dB
As you can see safe exposure depends on the level of noise and the amount of time you are exposed to it. As sound level doubles (every 3 dB) the safe exposure time is halved. Sounds over 120 dB can cause damage even after very brief exposure. Some concerts can reach this level.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the perception of sounds that are heard in one or both ears, which do not come from an external source. Tinnitus encompasses a wide variety of sounds but is often described as a ringing, buzzing, roaring, or pulsing sound. It can be intermittent or continuous and is usually subjective.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus has many causes. Some of the most common include:
- Wax in the ear canal
- Fluid in the middle ear space
- Disorders of the middle ear such as otosclerosis
- Noise exposure
- Hearing loss
- Head or neck trauma
- Certain medications such as those used in chemotherapy
This is certainly not an exhaustive list. If you have tinnitus you should have your hearing evaluated by a professional to discover what the root cause of your tinnitus is.
Psychological effects of tinnitus.
Everyone will experience tinnitus from time to time. 10-15% of adults experience tinnitus severe enough to require medical evaluation. According to the Tinnitus Association of Canada, 360,000 Canadians experience annoying tinnitus and 160,000 of those report serious or debilitating tinnitus.
Tinnitus can have different effects on people, ranging from mild discomfort, stress and anxiety to depression and sleep deprivation. Symptoms are often cyclical.
Tinnitus is not a “benign” condition in that it can have a significant psychological impact and can reduce your quality of life.
What can be done?
The first step is to have a hearing test to determine if the tinnitus is caused by a hearing loss or obstruction in the ear canal or middle ear. In cases where hearing loss and tinnitus occur together, hearing aids can be used to manage the symptoms of both.
It is also important to avoid silence when possible. Tinnitus often seems louder in silence because there is no outside sound to mask it. Tinnitus maskers can be used when avoiding silence is not possible. They can also be used in conjunction with counselling to help a person adapt to tinnitus. A tinnitus masker generates a low level white noise or tone and helps to alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus. They can come as a stand alone device or can be built into some hearing aids.
It is also important to avoid stress and fatigue when possible as they can temporarily make tinnitus seem worse. Even your diet can affect tinnitus. Stimulants such as caffeine can make tinnitus subjectively louder.
The staff at Accurate Hearing are well trained to evaluate and manage tinnitus. Remember, tinnitus is not a disease. It is a symptom of something else such as hearing loss. If you experience tinnitus please contact us to schedule a hearing test and tinnitus evaluation. By using a combination of counselling and the strategies mentioned above, tinnitus can be effectively managed.
Accurate hearing provides a full range of services including:
- Complete hearing assessments
- Hearing aid evaluations and fitting
- Custom hearing protection
- Tinnitus evaluations
- Hearing aid adjustments, cleaning, and repair