How our hearing works

Hearing loss information

As sound passes through each ear, it sets off a chain reaction that could be compared to the toppling of a row of dominoes.

First, the outer ear collects pressure (or sound) waves, and funnels them through the ear canal. These vibrations strike the eardrum, and then the delicate bones of the middle ear conduct the vibrations to the fluid in the inner ear. This stimulates the tiny verve endings, called hair cells, which transform the vibrations into electro-chemical impulses. The impulses travel to the brain where they are deciphered into sound you recognize.


Studies find that denial, cost, and vanity are the biggest barriers to the use of hearing aids.

Most seniors who use hearing aids cite better family relationships and improved mental health

Untreated hearing loss has serious emotional and social consequences for older persons, according to a major new study released today by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA). The Seniors Research Group, an alliance between NCOA and Market Strategies Inc, conducted the study.

"This study debunks the myth that untreated hearing loss in older persons is a harmless condition," said James Firman, Ed.D., president and CEO of The National Council of Aging.
The survey of 2,300 hearing impaired adults age 50 and older found that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.

Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States, affecting more than nine million Americans over the age of 65 and 10 million Americans age 45 to 64. But about three out of five older Americans with hearing loss and six out of seven middle-aged Americans with hearing loss do not use hearing aids.

Why are there so many older people with hearing impairment who do not use hearing aids? More than two-thirds of the older, non-user responders said, "My hearing is not bad enough" or "I can get along without one." About one half of the non-users cited the cost of hearing aids. And one-in-five offered the explanation that, "It would make me feel old," or, "I'm too embarrassed to wear one."

"It is sad that millions of older people are letting denial or vanity get in the way of treatments that can significantly improve the quality of their lives," said Dr. Firman, who is hearing-impaired himself. "Doctors and family members should insist that hearing impaired seniors seek appropriate treatment."

Georgia Society of Hearing Professionals: We Help Each Other - To Help Others
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