What Is Cochlear Damage? - Abstract

Topics: Ear, Sensorineural hearing loss, Cochlea Pages: 3 (943 words) Published: January 3, 2013
What is Cochlear Damage?

The cochlea is a tiny, snail-shaped structure. It is the main organ of hearing and is part of your inner ear. Cochlear Damage means that all or part of your inner ear has been hurt. Damage to the cochlea typically causes permanent hearing loss. This is called sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Many things can cause SNHL, or cochlear damage, including loud or extended noise exposure, certain powerful antibiotics, meningitis, Meniere’s disease, acoustic tumors, and even the natural decline in age can cause hearing loss. We’ll discuss noise-induced hearing loss here as an example, although the cochlear damage that occurs is similar to other types of sensorineural hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, occurs when your ears are exposed to overly loud sounds. Any sound over 85 decibels is considered to be dangerous to the ears and your hearing. The louder the sound, the shorter the length of time that is considered “safe” exposure. For example, at a loud rock concert, sound may reach 115 decibels, and only a short 15 minutes can cause cochlear damage. In addition, repeated exposure to loud sounds can cause additional cochlear damage. The only way to prevent noise induced hearing loss is to limit exposure to loud sounds and wear ear protection.

What happens when cochlear damage occurs?

Thousands and thousands of tiny nerves called ‘hair cells’ line the inside of the snail-shaped structure, the cochlea. Each hair cell is responsible for picking up a different sound, sort of like keys on a piano, but on a much more detailed scale. All of the hair cells work in concert to code the incoming sound and send it on to the brain, where sound is heard and understood. Imagine the tiny hair cells, standing tall and waving back and forth as sound comes into the ear. All of a sudden, an extremely loud sound enters the ear and the cochlea. The hair cells are hit with sound so hard that the hair cells are bent, broken, and in some cases,...
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