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HealthGlobal issues

The Science of Good Hearing

June 27, 2024

If you’re young, you don’t usually do enough to protect your hearing. But more than a billion youngsters are at risk of hearing loss worldwide. People often turn to assistive devices when it’s already too late.

The Science of Good Hearing
Hearing loss can make many different areas of life more difficult. Maintaining social contacts in private life or professional meetings can become a challenge. Image: ZDF

Hearing loss can result in isolation and accelerate the onset of dementia.

The Science of Good Hearing
Very loud noises, such as a short, intense bang, can severely impair the function of the hair cells in the inner ear.Image: ZDF

Traffic noise, aeroplanes taking off, music turned up to full volume. At concerts and parties, noise levels often exceed the pain threshold of 120 decibels. This can lead to noise-induced hearing loss - damage to the ears that can’t be cured. Age-related hearing loss is different: in this case, hearing aids can help. The first signs often appear in people when they reach their mid-40s. Those affected can no longer hear high frequencies and have trouble following conversations in a noisy environment. This may mean that people withdraw socially.

The Science of Good Hearing
The sense of hearing is the most differentiated of our senses. The ear processes more than twice as many sensory impressions as the eye. Image: ZDF

Hearing aids filter out background noise such as traffic or wind, suppress reverberation and amplify speech - all depending on the listening environment. Nowadays, the necessary technology fits into tiny casings. However, there’s still one disadvantage to all these hearing systems: the loudspeakers close the ear canal, which leads to sound loss as well as potential inflammation.

The Science of Good Hearing
With the hearing contact lens, the loudspeaker does not sit in the ear canal, but on the eardrum.Image: ZDF

With the "hearing contact lens", on the other hand, the loudspeaker sits directly on the eardrum and stimulates it directly. The start-up company Vibrosonic says that as a result, the sound is clearer and stronger. Could this be a viable alternative to traditional hearing aids?

The Science of Good Hearing
Hearing impairment is no longer a rarity. Doctors have already diagnosed one third of all 20-year-olds with significant hearing loss in the frequency range of speech and music.Image: ZDF

We introduce young people suffering from hearing loss as a result of listening to music too loudly for too long, look at everyday situations that put extreme strain on our hearing and present new solutions from the hearing aid industry.

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