We are constantly hearing things, so we take for granted not only being able to hear, but all of the things that we hear in a day. If you stop to just listen, you may hear things you never noticed hearing before.
Maybe a television or radio is on somewhere in the house, or you may hear the low hum of the refrigerator, or a lawn mower running in the distance.
Our hearing is mostly subconscious—we process sounds around us with our brains, via our ears. Our bodies are amazing, especially when you think about all of the things they do without any effort on our parts. Hearing is one of these amazing, involuntary processes.
Hearing is actually pretty complicated. Did you know these things about how we hear?
We have hair to help us hear.
We know we have hair all over our bodies and on our heads. Did you know our ears also have tiny hair cells that are vital to the way we hear?
Stereocilia, these tiny hair cells, take sound vibrations from our ears and change them to electrical impulses that then get sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. The brain then does the work to interpret the noise into meaningful sound so we can understand it.
There are approximately 16,000 stereocilia rolled up like carpeting in the inner ear. Stereocilia are so crucial to hearing that it is impossible to understand the sound around us without them.
It’s important to take care of our stereocilia, because once they are damaged they can’t be fixed, and we are left with hearing damage.
How are stereocilia damaged?
Knowing this, it is important to know how to preserve these tiny hair cells. Stereocilia can be hurt by loud noises, or even exposure to moderately high noises that are repetitive. This is identified as noise-induced hearing damage.
Fortunately, noise-induced hearing damage is also the easiest to prevent. Turning the volume down or wear ear protection in noisy environments will usually do the trick.
Your brain is the heavyweight.
It may seem obvious that your ears do most of the work when it comes to hearing, but that isn’t true. The brain is the heavy lifter regarding hearing and understanding sounds. The ears simply gather noise and funnel them to the brain for processing.
Your outer ear is like a satellite dish to gather sound from our environment and pipe it into the inner ear. Then the inner ear turns those sounds into electrical impulses and carries them along the auditory nerve to the brain that can then translate them into meaningful sound.
If you have hearing loss, you may need a nap.
If you have hearing loss, you may have noticed you are more tired than you used to be. Maybe you chalked it up to aging but hearing loss can actually cause fatigue.
Why? Because your brain is working harder to understand the world around you. What used to be effortless–hearing and interpreting sound into something meaningful—is now a lot more work. Even mental work can make us tired.
When you have hearing loss, you must rely on your other senses more to help you navigate life. You may need to read lips, facial expressions and body language or simply concentrate harder than you did before.
It can even cost you productivity at work. Fortunately hearing aids can help with this. If you are struggling with hearing loss and need relief, visit your audiologist for a hearing exam to see what treatment options make the most sense for you.
Los Gatos Audiology is here to help you protect your hearing and your health. Call today and come in for your yearly hearing exam so you can stay ahead of the curve and protect your hearing, your brain and your health.
We’ve served San Jose and the Bay Area for over 40 years, providing the right solution for Your Life. Your Style.
Los Gatos Audiology 430 Monterey Ave, Ste. 3, Los Gatos, CA 95030. For an appointment please call (408) 354-1312 or visit.