How the Ear Works
The complex structure of the ear makes it all the more amazing for its very small size. By far the largest part is the pinna, or outer ear. This cartilaginous structure focuses sound to the middle ear via the ear canal, which is lined with very fine hair and produces earwax, or cerumen. This substance traps dirt and debris that could otherwise make its way into the middle ear.
The middle ear is a complex structure separated from the out ear by the tympanic membrane, or eardrum. Three tiny bones that make up the middle ear connect the eardrum to the inner ear. A tube called the Eustachian regulates pressure in the middle ear.
The inner ear includes semi-circular canals partially filled with fluid. These are not involved in hearing but regulate balance. The cochlea, an amazing electro-mechanical curled structure, changes vibration into electric impulses and sends these to the brain via the large auditory nerve.
In the brain, electric impulses are interpreted as sounds.
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Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss has many causes, but all loss is defined on a scale from mild to profound loss. The testing procedures used at Advanced Hearing Care specifically define the amount of loss and help recommend treatments. Hearing thresholds are the softest sound you can hear in a particular type of sound. Whispers are harder to identify than shrill notes from an instrument.
- Conductive hearing loss is a problem moving vibrations of sound from the out ear to the middle ear, or middle ear to inner ear, or both. Conductive loss is a structural problem of some kind. Sounds are muffled and/or too soft to understand. This is common in aging people and causes include earwax blockage, deterioration of bones, ear infections or a hole in the eardrum.
- Sensorineural hearing loss is a problem with nerves and receptors in the hearing process. Tiny hairs in the ear can be damaged; nerves can be damaged by injury or disease; aging can affect these as well. Hair cell damage is a common problem and can cause varying degrees of hearing loss.
- Mixed hearing loss is often associated with aging and involves two or more types of loss. Disease or damage can be temporary while many hearing losses are permanent.
ten commandments of good communication
As a friendly reminder of how to verbally communicate, find the ten commandments of good communication.