People of all ages can suffer from hearing loss, for a wide variety of reasons. The most common, though, are age and over-exposure to loud noise/music. Other, less common causes include infection, head injury, perforated ear drum, and as a result of certain treatments (typically for cancer) or medications.
How the ear works
The ear is a small but extremely complex organ, transforming all audible sounds into information for the brain to interpret. The delicate mechanisms that make up the are comprise of:
The outer ear (external ear and ear canal): The ear is shaped like it is in order to capture sound and direct it down the ear canal to the middle ear
The middle ear (ear drum and three tiny bones): The middle ear consists of three bones called ossicles – the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup. The latter is the smallest bone in the human body! Together with the ear drum they work to amplify air sounds and turn airborne soundwaves into physical soundwaves.
The inner ear (cochlea and auditory nerve): The cochlea is the shell-shaped part of the inner ear and is where the sounds we hear are processed, turned into electrical impulses and sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. The brain then interprets the information into meaningful sounds, such as speech.
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