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Hearing Loss

How the Ear Works

Although small in size the ear is a highly complex organ, the ear transforms every sound audible to us into accurate information the brain can prioritise. The ear consists of delicate and highly complex mechanisms which can be described in three parts;

The outer ear (the external ear and the ear canal). If you have ever wondered why an ear is shaped like it is there is a reason; the shape of your ear is designed to capture sound and directed down our ear canal to the middle ear.

The middle ear (the ear drum and three very small bones). The middle ear is made up of three tiny bones called ossicles; the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup which is also the smallest bone in a human body. They work together to amplify air sounds and together with the eardrum turn airborne soundwaves into physical soundwaves.

The inner ear (the cochlea and auditory nerve). The cochlea is the shell shaped part of our inner ear; it is here that sounds we hear are processed by the inner ear (cochlea) and turned into electrical impulses and sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. These electrical impulses are sent to the brain which interprets the information into meaningful sounds such as speech and environmental sounds.

Causes of Hearing Loss

The general and most common causes of hearing loss are age and over exposure to loud music or noise. However, hearing loss can also occur as a result of the following:

  • through infection
  • after a head injury
  • if the ear drum is perforated
  • as a result of some cancer treatments
  • as a result of taking certain medications


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