Hearing is a very complex process
If any part of the outer, middle or inner ear isn’t working correctly, your hearing may be affected.
There are three main sections of the ear
The outer ear is made up of the outside part that you can see (the pinna) and the ear canal. The outer ear collects sound from the environment.
The middle ear is made up of the eardrum and three tiny connected bones (ossicles). The bones are called the malleus, incus and the stapes, but are often referred to as the hammer, anvil and stirrup. When sound comes into the outer ear through the ear canal, it travels to the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. This vibration puts the middle ear bones into motion.
The inner ear is made up of the snail-shaped cochlea and hearing nerve. Vibrations from the eardrum in the middle ear flow through the fluid in the inner ear and cause tiny hair cells in the cochlea to move. The hair cells change this movement into electric impulses that travel to the hearing nerve, which connects to the brain. The brain then takes these impulses from the hearing nerve and interprets them as sounds.
How natural hearing works
- Sounds enter the ear canal and travel to the eardrum.
- These sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate, sending the bones in the middle ear into motion.
- Tiny hair cells inside the inner ear (cochlea) change this motion into electric impulses/signals. The ear has over 25,000 tiny hair cells to help you hear the varying degrees of sound.
- These impulses/signals go up the hearing (auditory) nerve to the brain.
- The brain interprets the impulses/signals as sound and gives meaning to the information.