How Do We Hear

Our ears are elaborate organs that detect sound.  They are the first part of the auditory system.  It is composed of three main parts. 

The outer ear, which is made up of the pinna,the cartilage at the outside of the body (this is the part of the ear that is visble to the naked eye), the ear canal, and the eardrum which marks the beginning of the middle ear.  Sound waves are trapped in the folds of the pinna and directed down the ear canal towards the eardrum.

The middle ear is comprised of the middle ear cavity which contains the three smallest bones in the human body (malleus, incus and the stapes), and the eustachian tube. When sound waves reach the eardrum, the pressure of the waves moves the drum against the bones of the middle ear.  The bones vibrate and push into the oval window of the inner ear.  

The inner ear is made up of the cochlea and our balance canals.  When the stapes bone of the middle ear pushes into the oval window of the cochlea, it displaces the fliud that fills the inner ear parts.  The cochlea is line with hair-like filaments that are responsible for sending the message on to the brain of what our ears heard or what sound waves our pinnas caught in their folds.  From there, it is up to our brains to do the rest of the work of making sense of our surroundings.  Now that you have read this, what can happen to the ears to cause problems like hearing loss may be easier to understand. Please, feel free to read the section on types of hearing loss and ringing ears. 

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