How Ears Work


How Ears Work

Posted in: Hearing News | December 19, 2011
How Ears Work

It has been said that good things come in small packages.  This is certainly true when it comes to human anatomy. Our most precious experiences as human beings are usually the result of our five senses, each of which comes in a very small physiological package. The human ear is one of these small wonders. Here is how ears work.

How ears work consists of three parts; the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The outer ear, or the pinna, includes the part of the ear that you can actually see, as well as the eardrum. It works like a satellite dish to catch sound waves and direct them down the ear canal and into the eardrum. The eardrum is a thin, tight membrane stretched across your ear canal, which vibrates at different frequencies depending on the pitch of the sound waves hitting it.

The 3 smallest bones in your body are housed in the middle ear: the malleus, the incus and the stapes. These bones act like a hammer, an anvil and a stirrup respectively, and are set in motion when a sound wave resonates the eardrum.

The last stop on a sound wave’s journey is the inner ear. The inner ear is made up of a curled tube called the cochlea, which is filled with liquid and surrounded by tiny hairs. When the liquid moves against the hairs, they create a nerve signal that is interpreted by the brain as sound. If any step in this delicate process is affected (by either internal or external forces) hearing loss can occur.

Symptoms of hearing loss can include:

  • muffled hearing
  • difficulty hearing conversation
  • ringing in your ears
  • ear pain or itching

People who experience hearing loss often find themselves avoiding social situations because of their inability to follow group conversations.  This avoidance can lead to isolation and depression. The good news is a majority of hearing issues can be treated. Don’t let hearing loss ruin your social life. Give us a call to schedule an annual hearing test today.