How We Hear

March2016 Blog ImageAs one of the five senses, hearing is one of the human body’s most extraordinary processes. It is a complex system made up of delicate and synchronous parts. Read this blog to learn more about our ears and how they help us to hear.

Sound begins with a vibration in the atmosphere. When a sound is made (whether from wind, a bell or a voice), it moves the air particles around it. Those air particles, in turn, move the air particles around them, carrying the energy of the vibration through the air as a sound wave. That’s where your ear comes in.

10724-16 NuEar March 2016 Blog Image

Sound waves are collected by the outer ear and directed along the ear canal to the eardrum. Did you know, the shape of your outer ear is just as unique as you are? It plays an important role in how you hear. Called the pinna, its funnel-like shape and curvy design enable you to determine the direction the sound is coming from.

When the sound waves hit the eardrum, the impact creates more vibrations, which, cause the three bones of the middle ear to move. The smallest of these bones, the stirrup, fits into the oval window between the middle and inner ear.

When the oval window moves, fluid in the inner ear moves, carrying the energy through a delicate, snail-shaped structure called the cochlea.

In the inner ear, thousands of microscopic hair cells are bent by the wave-like action of the fluid inside the cochlea. The bending of these hairs sets off nerve impulses, which are then passed through the auditory nerve to the hearing center of the brain. This center translates the impulses into sounds the brain can recognize, like words, music or laughter, for instance.

If any part of this delicate system breaks down, hearing loss can be the result. If you have any questions about your hearing or a loved one’s hearing, give us a call today.

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