We can divide ear to 3 major parts:
Outer Ear: Ear lobe, ear canal. It gathers sound energy and focuses it on the eardrum.
Middle Ear: Tympanic membrane and tiny bones (Hammer-Malleus, Anvil-Incus, Stapes-Stirrup).
Inner Ear: The cochlea is dedicated to hearing. Perceives the sounds and transmits to the brain via auditory nerve.
This the pattern of our sense of hearing. Any disorder/failure on that chain pattern may lead to hearing loss.
If the hearing loss is somewhere on the path of outer earlobe, eardrum and tiny bones, then it is called conductve hearing loss. This type of loss might be related to congestion caused by external auditory canal discharge, which is colloquially called earwax. Abnormal bone growth, which occurs by aging, starts growing and blocks the ear canal mechanically and prevents the transmission of sounds to eardrum. Thickenings developed by the past infections or the holes in the drum also impair transmittance mechanism. In the ahead of that canal, disorder and erosion on the tiny bones pattern also cause conductive hearing loss by inhibiting the transmittance of sounds to inner ear. Fibers of auditory nerve in the inner ear, which transmits sounds to the brain, spreads all around within the organ of corti incochlea. Extensions of these fibers are in contact with the cell receptors in the organ of corti. The defects in here cause sensorineural hearing loss. Generally people around you or you may realize that you hear less. Complaints like asking people to repeat what they had said when at work or with friends, turning up the volume of TV or confusing the sounds in a noisy environment may be the pre-indications for decrease of hearing. In such case, you can apply a simple test for yourself. You can easily test to see whether you have any hearing loss by checking if you can hear the sound of your watch or the swishing sound when you rub your thumb and index finger in front of your ear. Starting with that, you can consult a ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist to test your hearing. ENT examination done by a specialist reveals the problems that may lead to your hearing loss. In order to determine the hearing loss and have an idea about its type and find out about its degree, a hearing test performed by an audiologist at a hearing testing unit, which can be found almost at every hospital and health center, will suffice. If your hearing loss is a conductive hearing loss, then ENT specialist will explain your hearing test to you in detail based on the findings of your physical examination and prepare your treatment plan accordingly. If the problem is due to earwax in the ear canal, then the hearing loss will be resolved by a simple cleaning. If the abnormal bone growth in the outer ear canal is reducing your hearing by way of causing ear canal narrowing, then this problem is solved by a simple surgical procedure which would provide the unity of ear canal and drum. Holes on the drum caused by the past strikes or infections and the destructions on the tiny bone chain, that cause transmittance deficiency, can be eliminated by a simple procedure. If your hearing test determines sensorineural hearing loss, then it can be treated by hearing instruments depending on its severity. Eventually, aging shows its effect on the ears after the age of 40. Genetic features acquired through family might lead to the development of sensorineural hearing loss at earlier ages. In the meantime, environmental factors, such as trauma, nutrition, some illnesses and being exposed to loud noise might be reasons for that genetic tendency to show itself at much earlier ages. Also recreational activities like motorcycle riding, land hunting, sports with firearms, listening to loud music, using walkman for long periods of time may cause nerve ending corrosions in the inner ear as well as wearing out of the cell receptors. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs. Even though we do not have enough data, by the arrival of mobile phones in our lives in the 20th century, preliminary scientific researches indicate that using cell phones for long period of time and also using cell phones with earbuds for long period of time are factors of sensorineural hearing loss development at earlier ages. It is in our best interest to be more reasonable about using such tecnological devices. Therefore, ENT examination and general check up might help to solve the problems.
Hearing Loss Protection and Treatment Methods
You should definetly use headphones if you are working at a loud place like a machinist in a ship, conductor in a train, worker in a factory where there are heavy machinery operating constantly or if you are continuously using equipments at work, which may cause noise trauma. Silicon or plastic ear plugs, which are sold at the pharmacies, will take the shape of your ears and help you to protect from noise trauma. If you are working at a loud work place then you should not neglect to have audiology test at suitable time intervals. Test ensures early diagnosis of hearing loss and prevents it from advancing. In spite of all that, if you are still suffering from sensorineural hearing loss at an early age then you might need to use a hearing aid depending on the stage of your hearing loss. In social occasions it helps to be at quiter places while the loud restaurants and social meetings should be avoided. It is recommended that you turn off the devices like TV and radio when you are having a dialog-conversation and focus on the ambiance where you hear yourself the best.