Hearing Loss and Sound Therapy
Why does hearing deteriorate?
There are many contributing causes to hearing deterioration. Some of the more common ones are:
- Cochlear damage due to prolonged exposure to loud noise
- Lack of high frequency sound to stimulate the ear
- Lack of good muscle tone in the middle ear, caused by stress, injury or poor diet
- Neural degeneration due to auditory deprivation
- Otosclerosis – overgrowth of the cochlear bone which results in fusing the stapes to the cochlea
What is conductive hearing loss?
Conductive hearing loss refers to any disorder in the sound transmission system in the middle ear. The bones and muscles of the middle ear adjust and tune the hearing mechanism so that sound can travel from the ear drum to the inner ear. Sometimes surgery is required in the middle ear. Surgery can be followed by Sound Therapy, as any surgery requires post operative rehabilitation. Hypertension or lack of tone in the middle ear muscles (tensor tympani and stapedius) also leads to conductive hearing loss.
What is sensorineural hearing loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss refers to damage which has occurred inside the inner ear, where the sensory cells transmit sound to the auditory nerve. Loud or prolonged noise flattens the fine, hair-like sensory cells—called cilia— in the inner ear. When the cilia are flattened they can no longer pick up sound vibrations, so the sound does not reach the auditory nerve. This condition may sometimes be diagnosed as ‘nerve deafness.’
How Sound Therapy may help
Sound Therapy helps in three ways:
1. Good muscle tone and flexibility is essential for the finetuning of the middle ear mechanism. The alternating high and low frequencies cause the ear muscles to repeatedly tense and relax. This exercise may restore muscle tone and improve the functioning of the whole ear mechanism.
2. STIMULATING THE CILIA. On the Sound Therapy program, the low frequency (low tone) sounds are progressively removed and the high frequencies are augmented. These high frequency sounds stimulate the cilia (the fine hair-like sensory cells in the inner ear). Clinical reports indicate that some haring improvement may be possible in high frequency hearing through Sound Therapy.
3. NEUROPLASTICITY. When hearing is lost, some of the pathways in the brain die off. It is then very difficult to re-build them. For this reason starting Sound Therapy sooner is important to prevent loss of neural auditory function. Neural plasticity means that audio stimulation form Sound Therapy can help to build new pathways for hearing.
How effective is it?
More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of Sound Therapy on hearing loss. However, feedback received from Sound Therapy listeners over the last eleven years indicates that most listeners experience some improvement in their hearing.
Typically, listeners report:
- Their families no longer have to shout at them
- They can hear the birds again
- They can follow a group conversation
- The sounds are clearer and crisper
- They no longer need their hearing aids