Audiology

Audiology is a branch of health sciences that studies hearing, balance, and related disorders and is practiced by Audiologists. They have specialized equipment that can test various issues experienced within the hearing system of the human body. If, for example, hearing loss is identified, an audiologist will test to determine which portions of hearing (high, middle, or low frequencies) have been affected, to what degree (severity of loss), and where the damage has occurred (outer/middle/inner ear, auditory nerve and or the central nervous system).

In some cases, hearing loss can be a contributing factor to learning disabilities even in young children. Development of the hearing system could be affected by various internal and external stresses as well as poor testing at birth. A proper evaluation by a qualified and experienced practitioner could help identify these issues.

Audiologists can also help in rehabilitation of tinnitus, hyperacusis, misophonia and auditory processing disorders. They are trained in Cochlear implants and hearing aids including custom fitted and tailored devices. Audiologists can provide hearing health care from birth to end-of-life. As care givers they can counsel families through a newly diagnosed hearing loss in an infant as well as help teach coping and compensation skills to late-deafened adults.

If you would like more information or would like to make an appointment, contact the Durban North Smile Center and get in touch with one of our Audiologists.

The outer ear (auricle) is the part of the ear that we can see. The main job of the outer ear is to collect sounds. The outer ear also includes the ear canal, where wax is produced. Earwax is that gunky stuff that protects the canal. Earwax contains chemicals that fight off infections that could hurt the skin inside the ear canal. It also collects dirt to help keep the ear canal clean. So earwax is useful!

After sound waves enter the outer ear, they travel through the ear canal and make their way to the middle ear. The middle ear’s main job is to take those sound waves and turn them into vibrations that are delivered to the inner ear. To do this, it needs the eardrum, which is a thin piece of skin stretched tight like a drum.

When sound waves reach the eardrum, they cause the eardrum to vibrate. When the eardrum vibrates, it moves three tiny delicate bones called ossicles. These bones help sound move along on its journey into the inner ear.

Sound comes into the inner ear as vibrations and enters the small, liquid filled, curled tube (cochlea) in the inner ear. The vibrations set the liquid into motion, like a wave.

The cochlea is also lined with tiny cells covered in tiny hairs that are so small you would need a microscope to see them. The vibrations (sound) cause the hairs on the cells to move, creating nerve signals that the brain understands as sound.