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Echo Barrier Blog

This Is What Hearing Damage Looks Like

Posted by Echo Barrier on Apr 16, 2019 3:32:30 PM | Noise Pollution noise loud noises hearing damage

Visit an optometrist to restore your 20/20 vision with glasses or contacts. However, if your hearing is damaged, even the most technologically advanced solutions will not restore perfect hearing if your inner ears have incurred damage from age, noise exposure, or medications.


Hearing Damage Causes Jumbled Sounds

When the sensory cells in the inner ear sustain permanent damage, the result is more than just quieter sound. The result can be jumbled, garbled sounds as well.

What is this like? For people with age-related hearing loss, the capacity to detect high-frequency sounds may be the first to go. In many speech patterns, consonants have higher pitches than vowels. Thus, this individual may experience speech as muddied, unclear, and sometimes incomprehensible.


Detecting Sound Frequencies is Hindered with Hearing Damage

Difficulty distinguishing between pitches may also result from damage to the hair cells of the inner ear. This includes damage to the nerves connected to those hair cells. Those nerves are key to separating the various frequencies in sound.

Some experts liken hearing sound to seeing colors on the spectrum. If the colors bleed into one another, distinguishing the specific colors becomes increasingly intractable. This is the effect damage to the cochlea can have to the hearer.


Left: a healthy cochlear. Right: the cochlear of someone with severe damage.


One common complaint from those with hearing loss is the impact loudness has on hearing. A sound may go from nearly inaudible to a level that is painful to the individual. The gray area of comfortable sound levels disappears, and sound is heard only at black and white levels. This may be what is known as “recruitment.” Normal hair cells overreact to cover for damaged cells.


Solution to Hearing Damage: Protection Today

Hearing aids resolve some of these issues. The issue of recruitment is addressed with “amplitude compression.” The hearing aid lowers the volume of louder sounds prior to passing that sound into the ear. Newer technology can tailor amplitude compression to exacting frequencies.

Still, even with technology making incredible inroads to helping individuals overcome hearing damage, the best solution is to protect your ears now.  Hearing damage is permanent.

Noise from everyday items such as kitchen blenders and hair dryers can contribute, let alone rock concerts. Hearing damage may not happen from a single instance, but take place over years. Take care of your hearing today to ensure the best hearing possible many years from now.


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