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How our hearing works
Posted by Roseann B. Kiefer, BC-HIS on July 28, 2020
Hearing is one of our bodies most amazing processes. Our hearing is a very delicate and intricate system. The ears work together... thus have synchronous parts.
So how does hearing work? Well, first of all... it begins with sound. It begins with a vibration in the atmosphere. When something vibrates... anything really.. the wind, a voice, a whistle, or a tree; it moves the air particles around. The air particles will move the air particles around them carrying the pulse of the vibration through the air via a sound wave.
Now... your ear enters the picture. Your outer ear will collect the sound waves and direct them into the ear canal to the eardrum. When the pressure hits the eardrum it increases and re-creates vibrations which then move the three little bones that are located in the middle ear. These bones function much like if you had a hammer in your hand and you were rapidly tapping. The smallest bone is called the stirrup.. and it fits into the oval window between the middle and inner ear. As the oval window vibrates, the fluid in the inner ear thus transmits the vibrations into your inner ear or Cochlea.
Inside the inner ear are thousands of tiny microscopic hair cells. As sound vibration hits them and moves the fluid they move back and forth in a wave type action. This activity thus starts nerve impulses that go through the auditory nerve to the hearing center of your brain. The brain then translates the impulses into sounds that your brain recognizes like speech/words or music. If any part of the system breaks down then hearing loss is possible.
So obviously, since the ear is attached to our bodies and we are rough and tough on our bodies then hearing loss will be prevalent in many of us. Hearing loss has been around since the beginning of time. In fact, clear back to 1588 an Italian physician and scientist Giambattista della Porta described early hearing aids in his published work; “Magia Naturalis” (Washington University School of Medicine/Deafness in Disguise).
Hearing aids have come a long long way since the beginning. However, the main concept is still the same... Amplification to help people hear and understand better. Hearing aids in their most basic form is an amplifier for your ear. By this I mean, they all have 4 main components; microphone.. to pick up the sounds, Amplifier ...to increase the power... Receiver/speaker to put the retrieved and increased signal into your ear and of course a power supply/battery.. because nothing can work without some type of power.
Microphones and receivers are transducers; thus, they convert energy from one form to another. The microphone gathers the acoustic energy or sound pressure and converts it to electrical signals from the amplifier and converts them back into acoustical energy. Between the mic and the receiver is where the amplifier is located. Therefore; the amplifier increases the amplitude of the signal that comes from the microphone before transmitting it to the receiver. After the correction/prescription is processed, it then send it to your inner ear. All that in a little bitty piece of plastic.
The above description is basic of course. Today’s premium hearing instruments have Artificial Intelligence Sensors, Multiple Microphones, Multi-layer computer chips, Gyro-meters for head and motion detection. Bluetooth antenna’s for connecting to accessories like cell phones and tablets. The technological developments in our modern world has brought better hearing to so many more people that wasn’t possible just 15 years ago.
If you are struggling with enjoying conversations or watching tv then you may have some hearing loss. You are NOT alone. We are hear to help. Make your appointment today. To Hear Better Is To Live Better!