Bagaimana Kita Mendengar dan Kapan Gangguan Pendengaran Terjadi?

How Do We Hear and When Does Hearing Loss Occur?

May 20, 2024

Hearing loss is a widespread global problem and affects approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide. The causes can vary, ranging from age to exposure to loud noises, infections, and underlying medical conditions. Although some cases of hearing loss cannot be cured, there are treatments available that can significantly improve hearing ability and overall quality of life. Although there are currently no cure-all oral medications or ear drops, there are supportive measures to help hearing, as outlined below.

How Do We Hear?

Our ability to hear is a complex and complex process involving several interconnected components that work together seamlessly. Here's a simple breakdown of how we perceive sound:

  • Sound Reception: It all starts with the outer ear, which picks up sound waves from the environment. The earlobe, or pinna, channels these sound waves into the ear canal, directing them to the eardrum.
  • Sound Transmission: When sound waves reach the eardrum, it causes the eardrum to vibrate. These vibrations are then transmitted through the middle ear by three small bones – the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes).
  • Amplification and Conversion: Vibrations are amplified as they pass through the middle ear and reach the cochlea, a fluid-filled spiral-shaped structure in the inner ear. Inside the cochlea, special hair cells convert mechanical vibrations into electrical signals.
  • Transmission to the Brain: Electrical signals produced by hair cells are sent via the auditory nerve to the brainstem and then to the auditory cortex in the brain, where they are processed and interpreted as sound.

When Does Hearing Loss Occur?

Even though the hearing process seems easy, there are various factors that can interfere with the process, resulting in hearing loss. Here are some common causes and risk factors:

  • Age-Related Hearing Loss (Presbycusis): As we age, the delicate structures of the inner ear can deteriorate, leading to gradual hearing loss. This type of hearing loss usually affects both ears and is often accompanied by difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds.
  • Genetic Factors or Hereditary Conditions: Some people may be genetically predisposed to hearing loss due to inherited conditions that affect the structure or function of the ear.
  • Noise-Induced Hearing Loss: Prolonged exposure to loud sounds, such as machines, concerts, or firearms, can damage the hair cells in the inner ear, causing hearing loss. This type of hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, depending on the duration and intensity of exposure.
  • Ototoxic Drugs: Certain medications, such as some antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and high doses of aspirin, can damage the hair cells in the inner ear,
  • Certain medications, such as some antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and high doses of aspirin, can damage the hair cells in the inner ear,
  • Traumatic Injuries: Head injuries or trauma to the ear can damage structures involved in hearing, causing temporary or permanent hearing loss.

How Do I Recognize Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss occurs when the process of transmitting sound vibrations or receiving processed sounds is disrupted. Identifying hearing loss can be critical for timely intervention. The following are common symptoms of hearing loss:

  • Asking People to Repeat Frequently: Frequently asking others to repeat themselves may indicate hearing difficulties.
  • Difficulty in Noisy Environments: Understanding speech in noisy environments becomes a challenge.
  • Fatigue and Stress: Strain while listening can lead to fatigue and stress during the conversation.
  • Intense Concentration: Following a conversation may require increased focus.
  • Muffled Speech: Another person's speech may appear slurred, giving rise to the perception of mumbling.
  • Difficulty in Telephone and Conversation Hearing may be impaired during telephone calls or face-to-face discussions.
  • Social Withdrawal: Difficulty in communication may lead to avoidance of social gatherings.
  • Tinnitus: Ringing, buzzing, or hissing sounds may be heard in the ears.
  • Difficulty Following Conversations: Keeping up with conversations in noisy environments can be a challenge, especially in group settings.
  • Volume Too Loud: Excessive volume levels may be required for TV or music.

Understanding how we hear and the factors that can cause hearing loss is critical to maintaining healthy hearing. By protecting our ears from excessive noise, avoiding ototoxic medications when possible, and seeking timely treatment for any hearing problems, we can maintain our ability to hear and enjoy the sounds of life for years to come.