Hearing

Hearing is perhaps our most important sense, allowing us to enjoy participation in life's events and helping us to feel secure.  The human ear is capable of distinguishing among an impressive array of sounds.  Below are a few common sounds and their corresponding decibel levels.

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30 dB.........whisper
60 dB.........conversational speech
80 dB.........alarm clock
85 dB.........diesel truck
120 dB.......thunder
140 dB.......jet engine
180 dB.......rocket launch

One in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech.

The two most common types of hearing loss are Sensorineural and Conductive

Sensorineural Hearing Loss affects the inner ear or cochlea, causing damage to the tiny hair cells that help transmit sound to the brain.  Causes of sensorineural hearing loss include excessive noise exposure, heredity and ototoxic medications.  Presbycusis is age-related sensorineural hearing loss.  This loss is progressive, bilateral (both ears) and symmetrical (same in each ear) and is usually worse in the higher frequencies.

Conductive Hearing Loss affects the middle or outer ear, impeding the normal transmission of sound to the inner ear or cochlea.  Causes of conductive hearing loss include middle ear fluid, otosclerosis, Eustachian tube dysfunction and impacted cerumen (ear wax blockage).

Some people may have Mixed Hearing Loss.  Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.