How Hearing Works

How Hearing Works

The ear controls hearing and balance, and is made up of three parts:  the outer, middle, and inner ear. All three parts of the ear are important for detecting sound–they work together to move sound from the outer part through the middle, and into the inner part of the ear.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, the hearing process is explained as follows:

The ear picks up sound waves and transforms them into electrical signals which travel along nerves to the brain. The signals are “decoded” and interpreted by the brain. The sound may then be perceived as loud, quiet, speech, music or a message such as “the phone is ringing.”

The ear has three parts:

Sound waves reaching the outer ear cause the eardrum to vibrate. The vibrations are passed on from the middle ear to the inner ear. This is where the actual organ of hearing, the cochlea, is found. Fine hair cells in the cochlea play an important role in converting the sound waves into electrical signals. The organ of balance is also found in the inner ear.

Sources


Menche N. (ed.) Biologie Anatomie Physiologie. Munich: Urban & Fischer/ Elsevier; 2012.
Pschyrembel W. Klinisches Wörterbuch. Berlin: De Gruyter; 2014.
Schmidt R, Lang F, Heckmann M. Physiologie des Menschen: mit Pathophysiologie. Heidelberg: Springer; 2011.
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How Hearing Works

To summarize it all, MED-EL put together this YouTube video to show you how hearing works.

Protect Your Hearing

Your hearing is a priceless commodity, so take care of it. Here are some thing you can do to protect your hearing.

  • Turn the Volume Down When Listening to Music or Watching TV
  • Avoid Prolonged Exposure to Loud Noises
  • Wear Protective Hearing Devices (i.e., Earplugs, Earmuffs) in Noisy Environments
  • Get Your Hearing Checked Regularly
  • Use a Washcloth to Clean Your Ears (Avoid Using Cotton Swabs)
  • See a Professional to Remove Excess or Impacted Earwax

If you notice any changes to your hearing, contact the New Hampshire Hearing Institute (NHHI) at (603) 792-4327 to make an appointment with one of our audiologists. To learn more about NHHI, please browse our website. You can also schedule an appointment online.