How hearing works:
The ear can distinguish between 7,000 different pitches and enables the brain to locate and separate sound sources.
- Outer ear: The outer ear picks up sound and transmits it to the eardrum via the ear canal.
- Middle ear: Sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate. The ossicles, called malleus, incus, and stapes, pass the vibration on to the inner ear.
- Inner ear: The cochlea converts movements of the ossicles into electrical signals. The auditory nerve transmits the signals to the brain.
Hearing loss usually sets in gradually, over years, eventually damaging your ability to understand speech and hear environmental sounds. Because of this, most people cannot tell it’s happening until the effects are very evident. Usually, family and friends are the first to notice the problem.