Problems That Affect Hearing Power

Healthy hearing depends on some events that change sound waves in the air into the electrochemical signals in the ear and then with the help of auditory nerve, these signals are carried to the brain. Our ears consist of three parts:=

  • Outer Ear – It consists of the pinna which is a part we can see on the side of the head. Sound waves are accumulated by the pinna and travel down the external ear canal.

  • Middle Ear – It is located behind the eardrum and it consists of three tiny bones, the malleus, stapes, and incus.  The sound waves are passed through the eardrum to these bones which further passes the waves into the inner ear.

  • Inner Ear – It consists of the cochlea which is the main organ of hearing. Cochlea is further consists of tiny sensory cells, known as hair cells that trigger the signal in the hearing nerve.

There are various syndromes that can cause problems with hearing and some of them are as follows:

1. Otosclerosis

Otosclerosis is a condition which primarily affects the stapes which is one of the tiny bone in the ear. This condition is caused due to abnormal remodeling of bone in the middle ear and bone remodeling is a process in which the bone tissues renews itself by replacing old tissues with the new ones. Otosclerosis is a common cause of non-syndromic hearing loss and various factors that contribute to the cause of this disorder such as genetics, immunologic and viral infection. Most often, the onset of the clinical otosclerosis is between the ages of 20 and 30 and sometimes it begins in early childhood or cases as late as 60 years of age. Also, this disease is more common in females as compared to the males. When there is any problem in both the middle and the inner ear then a mixed and combined impairment exists and this type of impairment are common in otosclerosis.

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2. Meniere’s disease

Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear and it is characterized by recurrent attacks of dizziness accompanied by fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss, ringing in the ears and the feeling of fullness in the ear. Usually, this ear disorder affects only one ear. According to numerous studies, the pathophysiology of this disease is believed to be due to an excess secretion of endolymph in the cochlear, a failure of resorption into the subarachnoid space, or both. In the early stages, the symptoms of this disease may go unnoticed as dizziness occurs as an initial symptom along with minor hearing problems. But as this disease progresses, the fluctuating hearing problems become more common and during attacks, a permanent hearing loss might be experienced by an individual.

3. Presbycusis

Presbycusis is a disorder which is characterized by the loss of hearing as an individual grows old. Most often, it arises from changes in the inner ear but it can also occur from the changes in the middle ear or any changes in the nerve pathway that leads to the brain. Usually, the hearing loss begins at high frequency and slowly it progresses to sounds of middle and low frequencies. People having presbycusis experience problems such as they often hear a sound that is less clear and lower in volume. Presbycusis can be caused due to the changes in the blood supply to the ears and it can result from heart disease, high blood pressure, vascular conditions and circulatory conditions.

4. Vestibular Schwannoma

Vestibular schwannoma, also known as acoustic neuroma is a condition which occurs when the tumor grows from the nerves that play a vital role in the balance and hearing. The nerve has two parts, the first part is associated with transmitting sound and the other part is associated with sending balance information from the inner ear to the brain. Most of the people who develop this tumor experience reduction in hearing in one ear and is accompanied by tinnitus, ringing in the ears. Other symptoms that might also occur include, a headache, dizziness, feeling of fullness in the ear, and numbness. As the tumor grows, it expands from the origin inside the internal auditory canal out into the spaces between the brainstem.

5. Usher’s syndrome

Usher’s syndrome is one of the most common disorder that affects both vision and hearing. It is an inherited disease that is passed from parents to an offspring through an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern. Usher syndrome is divided into three categories:

  • Usher syndrome type 1 – People having this type of disease are usually born with severe hearing loss and experience problems with balance. They also experience symptoms like night blindness and loss of peripheral vision.

  • Usher syndrome type 2 – In this type of disease, the newborns have moderate to severe hearing impairments.

  • Usher syndrome type 3 – People with this type are usually born with good hearing or only mild impairment in the hearing but around puberty, their hearing and vision problem begins.

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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.