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What is hearing impairment | Hearing problems

Hearing health

Did you know that one in ten Singaporeans suffer from hearing impairment? Sadly, on an average people wait seven years before deciding on seeking professional help such as Bay Audio once they start detecting their loss of hearing. Learn more about the different types of hearing problems, and also find out a few simple ways to protect your ears from hearing impairments.

What is hearing

The ear is a precious and delicate organ. Before we hear anything, sound waves in the air need to be converted into nerve impulses that our brain then reads as ‘sound’. To fully understand how it works, it’s important to realise that the ear is made up of three parts:

1 – The Outer Ear
2 – The Middle Ear
3 – The Inner Ear

Sound waves are gathered by the Outer Ear which then moves down the ear canal and strike the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. The drum is connected to three tiny bones, which are housed in the Middle Ear. The third bone acts as a piston, moving in a small opening at the start of the Inner Ear. This movement sets up waves in the fluid of the Inner Ear. These waves, like a swell in the ocean, move over tiny hairs that stick out of nerve cells lining the Inner Ear. As these hair cells move they generate nerve impulses. The nerve impulses are then carried along nerve fibers to the brain which are finally registered as sound.


Hearing loss

There are three types of hearing impairment:

1 – Conductive hearing loss is when there is a problem in the Outer or Middle Ear, which prevents sound from getting to the Inner Ear. It can be caused by:

– An ear infection
– A hole in the ear drum
– Abnormality of the little bones in the middle ear

2 – Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is a problem in the Inner Ear or hearing nerve that prevents sound from getting to the brain. Hearing aids are usually very effective at compensating for this kind of hearing loss. Causes of sensorineural hearing loss can include:

– Infections or viruses
– Inherited hearing loss
– Aging
– Sudden loud sounds or prolonged exposure to loud sounds

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3 – Mixed hearing loss occurs when two of the problems above are combined; one in the Outer or Middle Ear and one in the Inner Ear or nerve.


Outer or Middle Ear hearing loss can sometimes be corrected by surgery, antibiotics, or removal of an obstruction (such as ear wax).

Being hearing impaired in the inner ear is not as easily fixed with surgery or medication. Hearing aids are usually the only option. So as to regain back the fullness of life with volume at its best, visit a Bay Audio location to find out which hearing aids are most suitable for you and the improved quality of your hearing.