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The ability to hear is critical to understanding the world around us and keeps us connected to the people around us. Hearing is a complex process of picking up sound and attaching meaning to it.
The ear can be divided into three parts leading up to the brain – the outer ear, middle ear and the inner ear.The outer ear consists of the ear canal and eardrum. Sound travels down the ear canal, striking the eardrum and causing it to move or vibrate.
The middle ear is a space behind the eardrum that contains three small bones called ossicles. This chain of tiny bones is connected to the eardrum at one end and to an opening to the inner ear at the other end.
Vibrations from the eardrum cause the ossicles to vibrate which, in turn, creates movement of the fluid in the inner ear.Movement of the fluid in the inner ear, or cochlea, causes changes in tiny structures called hair cells.
This movement of the hair cells sends electrical signals from the inner ear up the auditory nerve (also known as the hearing nerve) to the brain.The brain then interprets these electrical signals as sound.
Hearing Loss is a National Epedimic
Approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population – 38 million Americans – have a significant hearing loss. (Center for Hearing and Communication)
One in every three people over the age of 65 – a total of 165 million people worldwide – lives with hearing loss. (WHO)
50 million people in the United States experience tinnitus. (American Tinnitus Association)
Of these, about 16 million have severe enough tinnitus to seek medical attention. About two million patients are so seriously debilitated that they cannot function on a "normal," day-to-day basis. (ATA)
32 million people affected by hearing loss are children under the age of 15. (WHO)
People with hearing loss wait an average of seven years before seeking help. (Center for Hearing and Communication)
Noise is the leading cause of hearing Loss. (NY Times Personal Health Blog)
30 million Americans are exposed to dangerous noise levels everyday. (American-Speech-Language -Hearing Association)
A 12-year study conducted by the neurology department at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that untreated hearing loss increased the risk for dementia.
Only one out of every five people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually wear one. (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)