Have you ever tried having a conversation with someone on the other side of a closed door? You probably end up raising your voice and straining to hear them. Open that door and suddenly it’s as easy as pie. Your voice and theirs flows unimpeded, back and forth between the two of you. For people living with conductive hearing loss, having a simple conversation with anyone can feel like trying to talk through a great, big closed door! The problem is much the same – those all-important sounds aren’t flowing freely.
This is what should happen when you’re hearing normally…
When someone says hello, the sound of their voice travels through the air and into your outer ear – that’s the visible, fleshy part of your ear and the ear canal that travels into your head. The next stop for those sounds is to pass through to the eardrum, a thin film that separates your outer ear from your middle ear. Then, yes, you guessed it, after hitting the eardrum, sounds go on into the middle ear. This part of your ear has 3 tiny bones that transmit the sounds, which are now vibrations, into the inner ear. The inner ear is where the sounds are converted into electrical signals that travel to the brain via a nerve. Now it’s time for your brain to take over, process the sounds, and, like magic, you hear that hello. All of this happens in the blink of an eye.
This is what happens when you have conductive hearing loss…
Someone says hello, the sound of their voice travels into your outer ear and that’s when the problems can start. Conductive hearing loss prevents sounds getting through into the inner ear, either blocking their passage in the outer ear or the middle ear. The worse the conductive hearing loss, the less sound gets through, which means you may not hear that hello at all.
What causes conductive hearing loss?
There are lots of different reasons you may experience conductive hearing loss, with earwax being at the top of the list as it builds up and blocks the ear canal. Infections of the ear canal or middle ear, ruptured or perforated eardrums, cysts, tumors, and diseases that affect the structure of the middle ear can all cause conductive hearing loss too. Many of these conditions are treatable with medication and/or surgery and can be completely resolved. In cases where conductive hearing loss can’t be reversed, hearing can still be improved using hearing aids.
What are the signs of conductive hearing loss?
If you’re struggling to understand conversations in person or on the phone, are finding you need to turn the TV up, or have a sense that even your own voice sounds different, then you may have conductive hearing loss. It could be that you can hear less through one ear than the other. You may even feel pain or pressure in one or both ears.
Are you worried about conductive hearing loss?
If you’re concerned that you may have conductive hearing loss, at Johnson Audiology we are here to help. Simply click here to get in touch with one of our Audiologists to book yourself in for a hearing assessment in Tennessee or Georgia. We’ll find out exactly what the problem is and get you the treatment you need.
Dr. Megan Johnson is the owner and licensed audiologist at Johnson Audiology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Western Carolina University, a master’s degree in audiology from the University of Tennessee, and her doctorate in audiology from the University of Florida.