The ear is quite a piece of engineering. A complex organisation of bones, hairs, nerves and cells, it picks up sound waves, processes them and sends them to your brain. This all happens in real time, meaning the system operates almost instantaneously.


Sound travels in invisible waves through the air. When these sound waves reach the ear, they travel down the ear canal and hit the eardrum, making it vibrate. Three tiny bones in the middle ear link the vibrating eardrum to a tiny bone structure in the inner ear called the cochlea.

The cochlea is filled with liquid that carries the vibrations to thousands of tiny hair cells. The movement in the fluid causes the cells to carry a message to the nerve that is connected to the brain, which turns the signals into what you hear.



Hearing loss can be categorized by which part of the auditory system is damaged. There are three basic types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss. A conductive hearing loss is caused by damage or blockage in the outer and middle ear, whereas a sensorineural hearing loss is due to damage of the inner hair cells of the cochlea and hearing nerve itself. A mixed hearing loss is caused by a combination of problems in the middle and inner ear.


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