We want you to hear better so you can live better
If you’ve experienced good hearing before, you’ll agree that good hearing health plays a key role in your day-to-day activities. It connects you with the most important people in your life and allows you to participate in conversations.
Not only that, you’re able to absorb and enjoy the beautiful sounds of the world – and unfortunately the awful ones as well… but at least you can hear them.
Hearing loss or impairment, however, can quickly diminish your quality of life. You’ll no longer be able to speak, listen and respond to the sounds and words around you. You’ll have difficulty understanding what’s happening in your environment, and it can create a lot of confusion for you.
At the Art of Hearing, when we say ‘good hearing’ we don’t mean normal hearing. That’s because there’s no such thing as a ‘normal hearing’ amount for anyone, regardless of your age.
With hearing, you either have it or you don’t.
What we can say, though, is we’ll help you to treat your condition and avoid further damage.
You are what you can hear
Hearing loss is a gradual process. At first, you may not notice when your hearing starts to deteriorate. Then out of the blue someone points it out, and eventually more people bring it up. You’ll begin to wonder if it’s true – that perhaps they’re right, you should “get your ears checked”.
Untreated hearing loss can change people.
According to report, one in six Australians are experiencing some form of hearing loss. By 2050 it could be one in four.
From what we’ve seen at the Art of Hearing, many people suffering from hearing loss tend to stay away from social situations. They stop interacting with their loved ones. Some even lose their jobs. They also miss out on the good things that used to make them feel alive.
It often leads to isolation, anxiety, insecurity and depression.
In children, the impact is even greater. A child’s brain, speech and vocabulary are not yet fully developed. So if they haven’t yet learned every word or sound they’ll need in the future by the time hearing loss sets in, it would affect how much well they can learn, speak and interact.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is struggling with their hearing, today is the best time to get in touch with a hearing health professional.
How we hear
Ours ears are very complex organs. They sense the sound vibrations that travel through the air. Each ear has three main parts which play important roles in the hearing process: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. They form part of your hearing pathway.
This section consists of the pinna and the ear canal. The pinna is the part people see, the area that’s shaped like a hand tightly cupped over the entrance. Like a funnel, it collects the sound and directs it through to the eardrum in the middle ear. As sound travels through the ear, it vibrates.
As the vibrations travel to the eardrum, they cause a chain reaction in three small bones interconnected in the middle ear captivity. They’re called the ossicles and they amplify the sound and send it from the eardrum to the inner ear.
The bones send the vibrations to the cochlea, a snail-shaped structure filled with watery liquid and lined with many thousands of tiny hair cells. As the cochlea vibrates, so does the liquid. When this happens, the hair cells sense the motion and convert it into a message that is then carried to the brain through the auditory nerve. The brain then interprets this as sound.
So technically, you hear with your brain. Your ears are the vehicle that takes the sound to the brain.
What cause hearing loss
Hearing loss can occur in any of the three ear sections along your hearing pathway. There are four main categories of hearing loss and they’re related to the affected section of the pathway.
Conductive hearing loss
This is hearing loss caused when the sound isn’t conducted properly through your outer ear canal so that it makes its way to the middle ear and inner ear.
Because of this malfunction, your sound levels are reduced, which means you’ll have difficulty hearing faint sounds. The loss can be temporary or permanent and is very common in children and the indigenous populations.
- Buildup of fluid in the ear (such as from common colds)
- An ear infection
- Earwax pushed down the canal
- A perforated eardrum
- A foreign object stuck in the ear
- Abnormal bone growth or Eustachian tube
- The ear didn’t form correctly
Hearing aid technology and medical interventions can help treat this conductive hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss
This occurs when either the inner ear or the nerve that transmits the sounds to the brain is malfunctioning or has suffered some damage. It affects your overall level of hearing, your ability to hear faint sounds, hear clearly, and understand speech.
Hearing loss is permanent in this case because the nerve is affected (or becomes deaf). It cannot be medically or surgically corrected.
- Can be genetic condition or birth injury
- Can naturally happen through your aging process
- Diseases and viruses
- Exposure to loud noise
- Exposure to drugs and chemicals that can be toxic the ear
- Due to contact with certain chemicals
Hearing aids and cochlear and auditory brainstem could help reduce the effect of this sensorineural hearing loss. In order to reduce the risks of permanent hearing loss, we recommend that you manage your exposure to noises, chemicals and drugs that could damage your hearing.
Mixed hearing loss
It’s common for someone to experience conductive and sensorineural hearing losses at the same time in the one ear. The sensorineural component is permanent and the conductive component may be either permanent or temporary.
As an example, you could have a permanent age-related hearing loss while suffering from an infection in your middle ear. Treatments available for the conductive hearing loss are more effective than what’s available for sensorineural hearing loss.
Central auditory processing disorder
This is the umbrella term used to group the various disorders that cause a breakdown in your ability for your brain to listen and process sound. They affect what you can hear and what you think you’re hearing.
Most people living with one of the disorders are unable to understand sounds when there’s background noise – such as when the radio is playing or they’re in a noisy café.
Who are affected by hearing loss
Here in Australia, hearing loss is common in three main groups of people. This has a lot to do with their behaviour, lifestyle and job.
- Young people who spend a lot of their time in loud places such as clubs and pubs
- Musicians who frequently work many hours in noisy performance places
- Farmers and factory workers who use noisy machines, usually on a daily basis
If you fall into one of these groups or are exposed to loud noise, we can provide you with special devices to help you avoid damage to your ears.
If you have a young adult at home, be aware that hearing loss is on the rise for their group. Remind them to take greater care with their MP3 player, mobile phone, car stereo, and concert.
When you fear that you or someone you know could be experiencing hearing loss, contact the Art of Hearing for an appointment with an audiologist who can determine whether there’s something wrong.
Do I have a hearing loss?
If you’re not sure whether you do have a hearing loss, here are 10 signs to look for that would help you determine:
- You struggle to follow conversations in a noisy cafe or crowded room
- People always seem to be mumbling or not speaking clear enough
- It’s hard for you to hear the speaker at a seminar or church
- You’re increasingly asking people to repeat what they’ve just said
- Soft speech and whispers are hard to understand
- You have to watch people’s lips to understand what they’re saying
- There’s constant ringing in your ears
- You hear better with one ear than with the other
- People complain that you turned up the TV or radio too loud
- It’s hard to hear the doorbell and alarms
If you’ve noticed more than one of these signs, speak directly with our audiologist. There’s no need to get a referral from your doctor.
Does my child have a hearing loss?
It’s hard to tell, that’s why we recommend a proper screening with an audiologist.
Although nearly all babies born in Australia undergo a hearing screening, hearing loss can occur later in life. Ear infections can also cause temporary hearing loss in children. This can be treated by your doctor or a specialist.
Perhaps your school also regularly conducts hearing screenings. If the school nurse raises any concerns, follow their advice and see an audiologist as soon as possible.
How we test your hearing
While we offer a free 5-minute self-help hearing test in our stores, you can choose for your initial test to be with our audiologist. They will conduct a full hearing assessment (an audiogram) to map your hearing loss at different sound frequencies. This is done in a quiet environment to determine the softest sounds that you can hear in each ear at these frequencies.
If we suspect hearing loss, we’ll help you explore all your options which could include hearing aids, therapy, medical treatment, cochlear implants and corrective surgery.
Also read our section on hearing tests.
Are hearing aids expensive?
At the Art of Hearing, we’ve sourced quality hearing aids from the best brands in the world. We’ve priced them at competitive rates so you can wear the best technology for your condition.
We’re not going to sell you hearing aids that will sit in the drawer. We’ll help you find the right one so you can improve your hearing and get a good return for your investment. Our hearing aids allow you to adjust their settings to match on your needs and your moods.
If you’re not sure, we can organise for you to trial the hearing aids.
You may also be eligible for the government-funded hearing program.
We promise to do our best to fit your hearing aids well so they’re comfortable to wear – careful, though, due to the improved hearing, you might not want to take them off!
I’m struggling to hear — what now?
Call us on (08) 9390 8811 to book an appointment. Or visit us at one of our stores.