Hearing damage has lasting effects

The Quest Society of Summerland is working to inform Summerlanders about hearing loss and its prevention.

The Quest Society of Summerland is working to inform Summerlanders about hearing loss and its prevention during Speech and Hearing Awareness Month.

Throughout May, posters and bright yellow “ears” will be scattered at businesses in the downtown area and along Highway 97.

One in four Canadians has a speech, language or hearing problem.

In the winter months, up to 20 per cent of children in elementary school will have some level of temporary hearing loss from an ear infection.

Parts of the middle ear are infected and swollen and fluid is trapped behind the eardrum.

This causes pain and is commonly called earache.

The ear has three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear.

The outer ear is the visible part and an opening which is the start of the ear canal.

The middle ear contains the canal leading down to the eardrum and three small bones. Airwaves travel down the canal and set the eardrum vibrating. This causes the three bones to vibrate. These vibrations then travel to the inner ear.

The inner ear transfers these vibrations to the cochlea, a snail-shaped body suspended in fluid.

The vibrating becomes an impulse for the auditory nerve. The brain interprets these impulses as sounds.

When the noise is too loud, it begins to damage the nerve endings in the inner ear.

Prolonged exposure to loud noise destroys nerve endings.

As the number of nerve endings decreases, so does the hearing.

There is no way to restore life to damaged nerve endings. The damage is permanent. The longer one is exposed to loud noises the more damaging it becomes.

Also, the closer one is to the source of intense noise the more damaging it is.

People differ in their sensitivity to noise.

Noise can damage hearing if one is at arm’s length and must shout to be heard.

If noise is hurting the ears, the ears may ring and there may be difficulty hearing for several hours after exposure.

On average, people with hearing loss wait 10 years before doing anything about it.

A hearing test is usually free and is painless.

A hearing aid can allow people with hearing loss to enjoy conversations and music once again.