– a guest post by Tanya Wilson
How does hearing damage occur?
Hearing loss can occur for a variety of reasons. In fact, almost every case is unique to the individual. Saying this, there are a range of common problems that are known to cause hearing damage. By knowing these common problems, you can take steps to avoid hearing damage.
How hearing works
To understand hearing damage it is important to first know how hearing works. In simple terms sound waves are picked up by the outer ear, and are then sent through the ear canal. These sound waves arrive at the middle ear and the ear drum. The middle ear is where all the magic happens!
The sound waves hit the ear drum and cause the movement of three tiny bones. This helps the sound move up to the inner ear and to the cochlea. The tiny hairs located in the cochlea transit information to hearing nerves and to the brain. And that’s how hear works…it is almost too simple!
Hearing damage occurs when noise, injury or illness affects any part of the above hearing process.  Some of the most common types of hearing problems are:
  • Sensorineural:  This occurs when there is damage to the nerves of the ear the interpret sound waves as particular sounds.  This can happen from an illness or injury or prolonged exposure to loud noise.  In particular viruses are a major cause of sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Conductive:  This is a type of hearing loss that occurs in the outer ear or the ear canal.  Generally it is a physical problem that is caused from a birth defect, an injury or and illness.  Sometimes it also occurs as part of the aging process.
  • Mixed:  Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss and can occur for a variety of reasons (exposure to loud noise, aging, injury and illness are the main ones).  There is however a range of good treatments options for mixed hearing problems.
10 Tips to Avoid Hearing Loss
While illness and injury result in a range of hearing problems, the most common cause of hearing damage is prolonged exposure to loud noise. Luckily there are steps you can take to minimize the chances of hearing loss from exposure to excessive noise. The tips below will help:
1. Always use high quality ear plugs at concerts
2. Always use hearing protection when operating loud machinery
3. Use good quality headphones that cancel background noise
4. Turn down the music, especially with mp3 players
5. Use the 60:60 rule – listen to music at a maximum of 60% of the player’s volume and for no more than 60 minutes a day. Listening to your favorite music in shorter time periods is better.
6. Turn down the volume on the TV when watching movies or playing on a console
7. Reduce the volume of the radio in the car as the confined space can actually increase the risk to the ears
8. Have a hearing detox from time to time by reducing the amount of time your ears are exposed to loud / excessive amounts of noise and also reduce the amount of time you are wearing in-ear headphones
9. Work noise should be kept to a minimum, if it’s too load or too frequent, you have every right to address the issue
10. Get your hearing tested at least once a year or if you are concerned about your hearing
While hearing damage is unique to individuals, there are common causes such as exposure to noise, injury and illness. As such there are steps you can take to avoid long term hearing damage.
While you may not be able to avoid injury or illness, if you use ear protection, avoid prolonged loud noise and have a hearing test, you stand a good chance of avoiding long term hearing problems.
BIO – Tanya Wilson
Tanya has over 7 years’ experience working in the hearing healthcare sector and writes hearing health care articles for Connect Hearing Australia.
Tanya’s hearing expertise, enable her to focus on a range of hearing topics, including tackling common hearing issues, treatment options and new hearing technology.

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