How We Hear

Hearing Loss Basics

Before you try to understand the reasons for your hearing loss, it is important to understand the hearing loss basics.

The ear is divided into three parts leading up to the brain – the outer ear, middle ear and the inner ear — and hearing loss can occur when any of these pieces is damaged or altered in any way.

The outer ear consists of the ear canal and eardrum. Sound travels down the ear canal, striking the eardrum and causing it to move or vibrate.

The middle ear is a space behind the eardrum that contains three small bones called ossicles. This chain of tiny bones is connected to the eardrum at one end and to an opening to the inner ear at the other end. Vibrations from the eardrum cause the ossicles to vibrate which, in turn, creates movement of the fluid in the inner ear.

Movement of the fluid in the inner ear, or cochlea, causes changes in tiny structures called hair cells. This movement of the hair cells sends electric signals from the inner ear up the auditory nerve (also known as the hearing nerve) to the brain. Any damage to these hair cells can lead to hearing loss. The brain then interprets these electrical signals as sound.

Video Of How We Hear Basics

Curious about how we hear?

Refresh your memory on how we hear and the basics of hearing with this video about sound waves in order to understand how different parts of the ear interact with each other to create the miracle of hearing. The 3D graphics in this informational video are great for helping people of any age understand just how we hear and why it’s so simple for something to go wrong. When you deal with something as important as your hearing, make sure that you understand how we hear and then talk to a hearing loss professional about what is causing your hearing problems.

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