You know you have hearing loss, or might suspect you do, but do you know what that means? In order to understand how hearing loss impacts your auditory system, it is important to know how hearing works. Hearing is a complex process that involves a handful of intricate parts of the ear. These parts work in tandem to transmit sound to the brain, which then registers it. At Beck Hearing Aid Centre, our hearing instrument specialists will work to not only help you have better hearing, but give you an understanding of how it works.
Parts of the ear
In order to understand how the ear and auditory system operate, it’s important to be able to identify the different parts and what they are responsible for. Your auditory system is made up of several different parts, including:
- Ear canal: A tube running from the ear canal, extending from the pinna to the eardrum.
- Eardrum: Part of the middle ear that vibrates in response to sound; also called the tympanic membrane.
- Pinna: The outer part of the ear.
- Corti: Ear organ that produces nerve impulses in response to vibrations.
- Cochlea: The spiraling cavity of the inner ear that houses the corti.
- Hair cells: Sensory receptors in the inner ear that detect sound and motion. People are born with 12,000 hair cells.
- Auditory nerve: A nerve in the ear that transmits vibration signals to the brain.
How sound travels
Sound waves enter the ear canal and travel toward the eardrum. The eardrum and bones inside the middle ear begin to vibrate. In the cochlea, tiny hair cells convert the vibrations into signals, which are picked up by the auditory nerve. The auditory nerve then sends the signals to the brain, where it is interpreted as sound.
How hearing loss occurs
Hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells within the inner ear become damaged. That damage is irreversible, meaning hearing cannot be restored. However, hearing aids can help close the gap and enable those suffering from hearing loss to enjoy better capabilities.