Your hearing

Hearing test

 

To carry out this test in the best conditions possible, we invite you to wear a headset or slightly increase the volume of your computer. We also recommend that you carry out this test in a quiet environment.

This test has been designed by Qualison’s engineers.
It is intended to identify your level of hearing loss in order to offer you a hearing aid adapted to your loss.
Do not hesitate to discuss with one of our experts on 04 32 40 94 03.

This test has no medical value; do not hesitate to seek the advice of a professional in order to obtain more information.

Hearing

All the texts in the topic “Hearing” were written in collaboration with a French ENT doctor for informative purposes. These texts are the integral property of Qualison and cannot be used without being mentioned. For questions concerning the topic “Hearing”, kindly contact us by phone or email.

I – The importance of hearing

Hearing is one of our five senses.

The ear is in fact the most valuable sensory organ for human and filled two main functions: it allows hearing but also helps us to maintain our balance.

Hearing seems to be so natural to us that it is difficult to become aware of the importance of this sense. However a loss of hearing sensitivity can quickly become a real handicap. This is why it becomes very important to take care of our ears.

Currently in France more than 6 million people are affected by hearing disorders. This phenomenon does not only affect elders mainly suffering from presbycusis, but also happen to youths where prolonged listening to music at a volume that is often too high creates early hearing loss.

1 – The Ear

The ear, a fragile organ:
Contrary to sight and the sense of smell which counts several millions of sensory cells, the EAR only contains 15000.

In addition, these sensory cells are not being renewed but disappear with time: it’s presbycusis. The destruction of cells and the onset of hearing disorders is also favored by exposures to extended noise characterized by too high volume.

The hearing faculty of the ear therefore has to be carefully preserved!

The ear, a complex organ:

The ear: three complementary entities.

The ear: three complementary entities

The ear consists of three parts, the external ear, the middle ear and the internal ear. Each part plays a distinct role that can be outlined as follows:

1.1 – The External ear CAPTURES sound:

The external ear is the visible part of your ear. It thus goes from the pinna to the eardrum. Beside it is the pinna that retrieves the sound waves and carries them to the eardrum through the ear canal.

1.2 – The middle ear TRANSMITS the sound:

The eardrum is a membrane. Thus the sound waves are put in motion. This movement is effected in this part then the motion proceeds through the malleus, stapes and incus (the small bones). This contraction can amplify or limit transmission.

1.3 – The inner ear CODE signal:

The vibrations are encoded into electrical impulses thanks to the cochlea. The cochlea then transmits these impulses to the brain.

2 – Earwax

Earwax is secreted by the ceruminous glands in the outer cartilage part of our ear. That is at the entrance of the ear in the outermost part of the ear canal.

2.1 – Composition

The earwax is composed of a mixture of fatty acid (lipids), amino acids and minerals, such as copper or iron. Unlike the received ideas, the earwax is not dirty; it is even the only sterile secretion of the human body!

The composition varies from one individual to another, but also based on ethnic origins or seasons. Variations are mainly due to shape, especially the fatty bodies.

2.2 – Role

The earwax plays different roles for our ear. Its main purpose is to lubricate the ear and thus protect this latter. By its viscous nature, the earwax allows to trap the foreign body as dander (small dead skins) and dust. It also acts as an antibacterial and naturally prevents otitis development.

Lubrication by the earwax also allows a good transmission of sounds.

2.3 – Secretion and elimination

The secretion of the Earwax in the ear canal is self-regulating. Indeed, the ear in need of lubricant and protective role, a minimum must be maintained.

Oxidized wax is turned away at the entrance of the ear canal by the jaws during chewing.

In order to keep a good hygiene of the ears, it is advisable to only clean once every eight days.

3 – Ear cleaning

In order to effectively clean the ears, it should follow a few rules. First you should know that only the present earwax in the ear canal is the “wrong” earwax. No need to go further!

Then, the usage of cotton swab should be banned. Indeed, the cotton swab causes the formation of a cap because it pushes earwax into the ear canal more than it collects.

So, the best weapon against the Earwax is… the finger. Of course if this is disgusting, you can make use of a tissue.

3.1 – Plug of earwax

Earwax plugs are due to a buildup of earwax in the ear canal. The symptoms of a plug of earwax are usually a feeling of clogged ear, tinnitus, hearing loss but also the dizziness or loss of balance. In the case of earwax plug, do not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional because they can lead to infections.

3.2 – Formation

Earwax plugs can appear for various reasons:

  • Using the cotton swab: Contrary to popular belief, the swab tends to gather and pack earwax rather than remove.
  • Too frequent cleaning: the production of earwax being self-regulating by the ear, regular cleaning will tend to secrete more ceruminous glands. At the end, this can cause the ear to secrete too much Earwax and form a plug.
  • Swelling of the Earwax in contact with water: During an extended stay in the water the Earwax
  • Wearing hearing devices or earplug can cause a bad buildup of earwax and so lead the formation of a cap.

3.3 – Treatment

The treatment of a plug of earwax is very simple. We recommend you do not do it yourself. See instead an ENT or your doctor. Although ENT has more sophisticated equipments, it wet the plug and breaks it up. Then the aqueous mixture is pushed back to the outside or can be aspirated using a pear or a mini vacuum cleaner. You will instantly feel a significant improvement and then find your full hearing without tinnitus and dizziness.

4 – Protecting your Ears

Protecting our ears nowadays has become paramount. Indeed, our increasingly noisy society leads to hard life and is sometimes due to the 15000 sensory cells that make up our internal ear.

Noise can cause hearing losses.

Two types of exhibitions are important. On one hand, sitting for too long beside high noise over 85dB. On the other hand, shorter stay beside noise of about 115dB and more.

In both cases there is high risk of damaging the ear cells. These cells are responsible for the processing of the sound waves into electrical impulses. Any damage done on the ear cells is irreversible and not regenerating.

In some cases, hearing disturbances can also be accompanied with distortions. The sounds are then deformed and this is much more painful than a simple hearing loss.

Protect yourselves

You will therefore understand the public health issue related to ear protection.

In order to preserve your hearing faculty, it is important to reduce risky situations both in your professional and in your personal life. This risk increases with the intensity of the noise but also the length of time exposed to noise. Although prolonged exposure to high level of noise for years can lead to hearing loss. Note the irreversible character of this phenomenon! Furthermore, noise can have health implications such as fatigue, stress or attention disorders and thus lead to accidents. These consequences are already involved with exposure to a weaker noise.

4.1 – During Work

Noise bothers about 70% of workers in their workplace. Even though we mostly think about the industry, meanwhile office workers are also submitted.

The employer is responsible of taking protection measures since 1963 with legal recognition of noise as a professional risk.

If you think you suffer from noise in your workplace, then you need to:

  • Report your discomfort to your employer or your representatives. The latter will then implement prevention measures.
  • Talk to your doctor at the onset of the first symptoms. If he deems it necessary, the latter will conduct an audiometric examination on you so as to check your sense of hearing.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (plugs, headset…) placed at your disposal by your employer. Such equipment must be worn during exposure to a noisy environment of high intensity or during a long exposure to noise. This individual protection equipment can reduce the noise from 25dB to 35dB according to their type.

However, before wearing personal protection equipment put in place, the employers must decrease collective exposure. So he will have to:

  • Reduce noise in the workspace.
  • Reduce the spread of noise.

Adoption of personal protective equipment is often the most expensive solution and the less effective in long term because it is not to improve the situation but rather hide it.
All these practical recommendations should not be an obstacle, but it’s a right, it’s your health!

4.2 – In everyday life

Today in France, more than six million people suffer from hearing problems. Many still think that these disorders are only due to industry or old age. This highlights the lack of prevention on the topic. Many of these deficiencies are due to the use of everyday objects or risk behaviors. For many cases, old age and genetics don’t come only to increase existing problems.

To prevent all inconveniences it is important to limit the intensity and/or duration of exposure to noise.

In everyday life, the sound sources at risk are not lacking. Below are several examples.

4.3 – Walkmans

These devices are subject to a maximum volume of 100dB. However, as from 85dB, there is a risk to our hearing. Thus, our hearing may be damaged after only 2 hours of listening per week at full power. So remember to reduce the volume if you listen to your walkman for long.

4.4 – Concerts and night clubs

At midnight, the sound intensity may exceed 130dB! Over exposure to such sound levels can represent a real trauma to your ears. You should know that fatigue and alcohol or drug consumption weakens the ears. It is advised not to stay nearby speakers with frequent breaks in less noisy places. It is also possible to wear ear plugs in order to limit the risks. Finally, in case of appearance of hissing or buzzing, feel free to leave. It’s your health!

4.5 – Musicians

Musicians are subject to noise on regular basis. Therefore, make sure that the sound exposure levels are not too high. Should it be the case, the wear of headsets is necessary. It’s also the case of many drummers who repeat with headphones. The sound reverberation of the rehearsal room is also an asset. At the end, reducing noise level either public or individual is an effective solution.

4.6 – Generally speaking.

During exposure to a high noise level, a break of 10 minutes every 45 minutes or 30 minutes every 2 hours is necessary.

Following a strong exposure, if you feel hissing or buzzing, then consult an ENT or make an appointment to emergencies. In case of possible injuries, be aware that these may become irreversible beyond 48 hours.

The auditory risk is cumulative! Consider all the exhibitions in which you are submitted. Equally in your professional and personal life.

If you are submitted to high noise without your knowledge, you can use your own fingers by inserting them into your ear canal. This constitutes a good emergency protection.

II – Presbycusis

Definition: What is presbycusis?

This is a situation where there is a decrease in auditory, qualitative and quantitative faculty, age-related. Usually bilateral and symmetrical, it occurs especially in high frequencies (4 to 8 kHz) which allow a good perception of words.

Men often suffer from presbycusis. It affects individuals in a variable and uneven way and manifests more strongly after 60 years, but already insidiously begins after 45 years. It is good to worry from about 50 years.

Why is presbycusis harmful to listening?
Presbycusis induces the loss of high frequencies permitting to hear voices. So it is difficult to distinguish voices in a noisy environment (low frequencies).

People with presbycusis are not “deaf” and hear most of the surrounding sounds because they perceive a significant proportion of the energy of words. In fact, 80% of this energy is in low frequencies.

However, the understanding of words is based on 60% of the 5% energy in high frequencies.

Why get an hearing device?

Presbycusis is harmful to the understanding of conversations because of the gradual loss of high frequencies. This phenomenon is amplified when the conversations take place in a noisy or reverberant environment (cinema, theatre…). Noise and reverberation produces low frequencies that hide the high frequencies to the perception of the voice. Thus, whispers, sibilant consonants (S, Z, CH) or fricatives (F or V), as well as women or children voices are less noticeable. To follow a conversation, someone suffering from presbycusis will tend to read lips or make his interlocutors repeat every time.

On another side, with the progressive worsening of the disease, those affected will isolate themselves bit by bit thinking that interlocutors do not speak loud enough, too fast or without formulating. This reaction permits them not to face a disease.

Desocialisation and depressive symptoms may then occur and seriously damage lifestyle. Presbycusis also has an important socio-economic impact leading to drops in professional performance and complicating relationships.

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