About Hearing Loss

Click here to learn about hearing loss help for Pensioners and Veterans in Australia.

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.

hearing loss and hearing diagram

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.

Hearing Protection

Hearing loss is usually permanent, therefore hearing protection is an important part of hearing health.  Hearing Innovations offers a range of hearing protection options.

Water protection
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.

Musician’s earplugs
For musicians, sound crew, DJ’s, bands or orchestras.  These plugs reduce sounds by up to 25 decibels.

Industrial protection
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.

Click here for tips on how to protect your hearing

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.

Common causes of hearing loss

  • Aging
  • Hereditary
  • Injury
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Sudden Hearing Loss (sudden drop in hearing in one ear, which may also result in imbalance and tinnitus)
    Note: A Sudden Hearing Loss is a ‘hearing emergency”.  If you have had a Sudden Hearing Loss then Edgecliff Hearing recommends an urgent hearing assessment, and we will see you within 24 hours of receiving your request for an appointment).
  • Viral infections (such as measles or mumps)
  • Shingles
  • Ototoxic drugs (medications that damage hearing)
  • Meningitis
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Ménière’s disease (a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance)
  • Acoustic tumors
  • Heredity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Infections of the ear canal or middle ear
  • Perforation or scarring of the eardrum
  • Wax buildup
  • Foreign object in the ear canal
  • Otosclerosis (an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear)
  • Abnormal growths or tumors

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.

Once the hearing test is completed Edgecliff Hearing staff will send your hearing results.

A copy of the results can be forwarded to your doctor.

Should you require a hearing aid your audiologist will explain what’s involved in selection and fitting.


Learn about Hearing Tests

Book an Audiologist for a Hearing Test