Hearing loss and the benefits of a hearing aid fitting

September 19, 2014 by Jacinthe Poitras
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear, particularly the cochlea or auditory nerve. We will focus on damage to the cochlea and specifically on damage to the cilia, which are non-renewable sensory hair cells covered by fibrous structures known as stereocilia.

Currently, there are several known causes of hearing loss:

  • Aging: This can cause slow, gradual bilateral (in both ears) hearing loss, especially high-frequency (high-pitched sounds) hearing loss.
  • Ototoxicity : Some medications, such as antibiotics or anti-cancer drugs, can affect inner ear function.
  • Exposure to loud noise: Being exposed to very loud noise can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss.
  • Heredity: Sensorineural hearing loss, which is often progressive, can be present at birth or develop later on.

In such cases, being fitted with hearing aids could be beneficial. When the cilia are damaged, frequency resolution (the ability to distinguish between low and high frequencies, or deep and high-pitched sounds) and dynamic range (the difference, in dB, between the auditory threshold and the threshold of discomfort) are diminished. This makes it difficult for the sufferer to understand speech. Generally speaking, this kind of hearing loss cannot be corrected surgically or with medication. In a large number of cases, the solution is being fitted with hearing aids.

Furthermore, being fitted with hearing aids will help the person with hearing loss resume activities that may have been abandoned because of hearing difficulties encountered in many situations, such as playing cards or going to a restaurant with friends.

There are numerous benefits to treating sensorineural hearing loss with hearing aids. First of all, stimulation of the cilia will limit the negative effects of sensory deprivation by making sounds that are usually inaudible perceptible to the user, and by keeping the auditory system working.

Sensorineural hearing loss

No gap between the bone conduction curve and the air conduction curve.

Benefits of hearing aid

If you have questions about the benefits of being fitted with hearing aids, consult an audioprosthetist at one of the Lobe Santé auditive et communication multidisciplinary clinics.
References:
-BANSAL, M. “Diseases of Ear, Nose and Throat”, 2013, p. 156–163.
-HOGAN, A. “The health effects of hearing loss”, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, http://www.actdrc.org.au/actdrc/docs/factsheet.pdf.