Hearing is one of our most important human senses. The ability to hear enables us to talk to each other, quickly detect dangerous situations and helps us orientate ourselves in relation to sound sources.
The auditory system, the perception of tones, sounds and noises, encompasses complex processes where many parts of the ear work together:
- Tones or sounds cause the air to vibrate and produce sound waves.
- Sound waves hit the auricle and are transmitted to the middle ear, resulting in the eardrum vibrating.
- Ossicles, the tiny bones of the middle ear, are subsequently set into motion, transmitting the sound vibrations to the inner ear.
- Here they reach the cochela. Its fine sensory hair cells begin to vibrate an convert the vibration into electrical impulses. These reach the the brain via the auditory nerve, which is where we finally perceive a tone or sound.
When we experience persistent or prolonged hearing loss, our brain may loose the ability to recognise sounds. If left untreated, the faculty of hearing needs to be reacquired.
The sooner a hearing care professional is consluted, the greater the likelyhood that speech intelligibilty can be restored.
An intact hearing is of great importance in every situation and at every age. Hearing enables us to listen, engage and communicate with other people - and thus has a key function in shaping our social interactions and quality of life.
Good hearing is essential
For the proper acquisition of spoken language good hearing is of great importance especially in the first years of life: children repeat words they picked up. Furthermore, intact hearing is indispensable for the development of social skills, such as playing and interacting with peers, and essential skills such as reading.
Good hearing is of great importance in the working world, for example in taking part in discussions in larger meetings, or when receiving information or instructions. Likewise, conversations in the cafeteria or in the hallway require intact hearing in order to exchange ideas with colleagues, build working relationships and become part of the team.
Good hearing is of great importance in leisure activities, e.g. when conversations take place in a larger group and background noises such as music are overlapping speech. It is essential in many sports, especially in order to understand shouts from teammates or instructions from the coach well.
Age-related hearing loss is a natural process and the most common hearing impairment - sometimes accompanied by constant ringing in the ear (tinnitus). In order to stay mentally active, good hearing is of great importance in the later years of life. Only those who hear well are able to follow conversations and process information, are stimulated to think, communicate and exchange thoughts, and so will maintain relationships and make new social contacts. Hearing keeps the brain exercised and helps with remaining active and independent.