Of all the senses, hearing is one of the most difficult to do without. The difficulties in communication that occur due to poor hearing can have a serious adverse effect on your daily life, so making sure you know exactly how your own ears function is very important. In this guide to help you get to know your ears, you will find out about some of the most common hearing issues, get some general ear care tips and find out what to do should your ears not be functioning at full capacity.
What is deafness?
In essence, deafness is the degree to which you struggle to hear noise. Those with mild deafness will perhaps struggle to keep up with a conversation in a noisy environment, while moderate sufferers will require an aid of some description to help them follow speech. Severely deaf individuals usually have to rely on lip reading or British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate effectively, while the profoundly deaf are likely to class BSL as their first language. In total, around nine million people in the UK suffer from some form of deafness.
Deafness usually occurs due to damage to any individual part of the whole hearing system. Causal factors include anything from brain damage to excess wax in the ear canal, with some more difficult to treat than others. Hearing problems can also be hereditary, and are particularly difficult to treat.
How can I care for my ears?
One way of stopping preventable forms of hearing loss is through learning to protect your ear itself. For example, the ear can easily be damaged by inanimate objects or excessively loud noises, so finding a way to prevent the effect of such dangers is recommended. In fact, the insertion of a foreign object into the ear canal is one of the most common causes for hearing loss, and occurs mainly when people believe they are relieving an itch or similar. Best practice is to avoid putting any object in your ear, as you could be doing serious permanent damage.
Acoustical trauma should also be monitored closely. The level to which we are exposed to loud noise pollution can have a slow yet long-lasting effect on our hearing. One way to reduce the risk is to wear noise-filtering earplugs when you attend a concert.
What should I do if I have hearing damage?
If you believe you have hearing damage, you should first enlist the help of a professional who knows beyond doubt whether you have a problem or not. There are many companies available who can conduct a thorough hearing test for you, and will then help you to manage your hearing loss should any be found. One of the most common ways of dealing with deafness is through the use of a hearing aid.
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that amplifies sound entering your ear canal. A microphone will pick up the sound from the environment and convert it into an electrical signal which is then sent to the amplifier. This will increase the volume and send the signal to the receiver which will convert it back into a sound that is directed straight into the ear canal.
There is still a certain stigma attached to the use of hearing aids, but thankfully new versions that fit snuggly in the ear canal mean that no one has to know you are even using one.