Hearing loss

Hearing Loss is a common problem in Ireland that affects a large percentage of adults. The Irish Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists estimates that one in 12 people in Ireland will acquire a permanent hearing loss. Hearing impairments affect our everyday activities and restrict personal and social participation.  As we grow older, natural hearing loss occurs, but in some cases hearing loss can become present earlier in life.

Our ears process sounds enabling our brain to interpret what we hear. The ear consists of three parts including the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Each part has a specific function, the outer ear and middle ears amplify the sound (vibrations) while the inner ear converts the sound signal for information.

Hearing loss occurs when our sensory cells (hairs cells) become damaged within the cochlea in our inner ear. The sensory cells convert the vibrations into electrical nerve signals that travel along the auditory nerve to the brain. When these tiny hair cells become damaged, our ability to interpret sounds becomes more difficult.  As we age, hearing loss becomes more prevalent as the hair cells begin to deteriorate.

Hearing loss can also be caused by prolonged or repetitive loud noises which causes the hair cells to become less rigid. When the cells become less rigid, their efficiency to process sound becomes less effective.

Without ear protection, high decibel levels from machinery, loud environments or persistent noise can cause permanent hearing loss. Our helpful decibel table below can help you identify common noises that may occur in your environment.

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