We hear with our ears and brain via 3 distinct areas: The Outer Ear, The Middle Ear, and The Inner Ear. Each part plays an integral role in directing sound signals for processing in the brain.
Outer Ear– Sound waves are collected by outer ear (pinna) and channelled along the ear canal to the eardrum.
Middle Ear – When the sound waves hit the eardrum, a vibration is created and transferred via the 3 smallest bones in the body, the malleus, incus and stapes (a mechanical lever system). The Eustachian tube which joins the back of the nasal passages works as a valve to equalise the air filled space behind the eardrum to that of the outside world.
Inner Ear – The stapes is connected to the inner ear (cochlea), which is filled with fluid and thousands of microscopic sensory hair cells. The vibration of the stapes against the cochlea causes the fluid in the cochlea to move like a wave. The wave sets off nerve impulses which are carried by the hearing nerve to the brain where it is recognised as sound.
Each part plays a role to keep your hearing working perfectly. An Edgecliff Hearing Audiologist has the technology and expertise to test each part of the ear during a hearing test and gauge what may be needed to get you hearing better than ever before.
Tinnitus is a physical condition, experienced as noises or ringing in the ears or head, when no such external physical noise is present. It is often described as a buzzing, whistling, roaring, or humming sound.
Tinnitus can be extremely debilitating, affecting your ability to work or cope with normal life activities.
If you have tinnitus you may suffer from extreme distress, depression, anxiety, frustration and sleep problems. An Edgecliff Hearing audiologist can help you to successfully manage your tinnitus to the point where it is no longer a debilitating problem.
Firstly we need to work out how bad the problem is.
CLICK HERE to book an appointment to discuss your Tinnitus with us at Edgecliff Hearing.
From there we can discuss what will be most suitable to match your needs and your budget.
Hearing loss is usually permanent, therefore hearing protection is an important part of hearing health. Hearing Innovations offers a range of hearing protection options.
Ideal for swimmers or surfers, swimmer earplugs keep water out of the ear canal. Ideal for anyone with a history of ear infections or ruptured eardrum.
For musicians, sound crew, DJ’s, bands or orchestras. These plugs reduce sounds by up to 25 decibels.
For any worker exposed to loud industrial noises, such as construction workers or heavy equipment operators. These earplugs can protect workers’ hearing by reducing dangerously loud noises by up to 40 decibels.
Middle Ear Infections
Middle ear infection (called otitis media) is an infection behind the eardrum. Ear infections are very common and sometimes painful. By the age of seven, most children have grown out of middle ear infections. Middle ear infections are usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection and often happen during or after a child has a cold.
The symptoms of ear infection include:
- Earache - mild to severe pain in the ear or face
- Fever - a high temperature might be the only symptom in babies or young children
- Mild hearing difficulty - caused by fluid which builds up from the infection
- Ear discharge - this happens when the eardrum bursts because of pressure behind it.
Some middle ear infections lead to the condition known as glue ear. This is when thick fluid in the middle ear causes increased difficulty hearing. This is not permanent but needs medical treatment.
See your doctor if your child:
- Has a high fever or bad earache
- Has an ear discharge that lasts more than 24 hours
- Seems to have trouble hearing after a cold
If antibiotics are prescribed it is important that your child finishes the medicine according to the instructions (usually for five to seven days). Your child must keep taking the medicine even if they seem better after a day or two.
Drugs that can damage your hearing
Ototoxic drugs can damage your hearing. They include the aminoglycosides (such as streptomycin and gentamycin) and the glycopeptide vancomycin. Hearing loss as a side effect may occur if the aminoglycosides are taken for more than seven days. The risk is increased if the person is also on diuretic (fluid-removing) drugs, or if they are experiencing liver or kidney failure. Other drugs that are thought to cause hearing loss include drugs for malaria (quinine and chloroquine) and salicylates like aspirin, but the hearing loss is believed to be temporary. Certain industrial chemicals, such as solvents, are also implicated in hearing damage. Suggestions to avoid drug-related hearing damage include:
- Discuss concerns about medications with your doctor.
- Take medications only as directed.
- See your doctor immediately if you experience unusual symptoms, such as tinnitus, while on a course of drugs.
- If your line of work involves chemicals, talk to your occupational health and safety officer about ways to reduce your exposure.
Diseases that can affect your hearing
Hearing loss can be caused by viral diseases including mumps, measles, pertussis (whooping cough) and rubella (German measles). These types of infections are more common in childhood, although adults who haven't been immunised and didn't have the diseases in childhood may catch them too. Bacterial diseases, such as meningitis and syphilis, can also target and harm the ears. A tumour which grows on the hearing nerve, called an 'acoustic neuroma', can cause hearing loss and tinnitus in the affected ear. A virus in the inner ear can cause a sudden drop of hearing, usually in one ear. Suggestions to avoid disease-related hearing damage include:
- Children should be vaccinated. See your doctor or Maternal and Child Health nurse for further information.
- If you fall ill, see your doctor for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
- Persistent tinnitus or sudden hearing loss should be investigated by an ear specialist.
- In the case of a sudden hearing loss, see an ear specialist immediately.
What is Barotrauma?
Barotrauma refers to hearing damage caused by changes in air pressure on either side of the eardrum. This can be caused by descending or ascending through water too quickly while scuba diving, or descending in an aeroplane when suffering from a bad head cold.
Scared about having a Hearing Test?
There’s no reason to ignore hearing loss and leaving it to get worse is only going to reduce your quality of life. If you think you have a hearing problem, do something about it and get your hearing checked by an audiologist.
A hearing assessment is non-invasive, simple and completely painless and takes less than an hour. Visit your GP for a referral form so you can make an appointment.
Once the hearing test is completed Edgecliff Hearing staff will send your hearing results and a written report to your doctor or medical specialist. Should you require a hearing aid your audiologist will explain what’s involved in selection and fitting.
The hearing assessment fee may be wholly or partly covered by Medicare.