THE EAR- HOW WE HEAR SOUND

The Ear as a Sensory Organ

Outer-ear, Middle-ear & Inner-ear diagram

The Outer Ear

The ear or pinna funnels sound waves from the air, through the ear canal or external auditory meatus towards the middle ear. Wax often builds up in the meatus and whilst ear wax is quite normal, it can become an issue when impacted. Hearing aids can also whistle due to wax build-up. Pinnaclear can remove any ear wax under direct observation, by microsuction​.

The Middle Ear

Sound from the meatus travels through the air and bounces onto the ear drum or tympanic membrane, causing it to vibrate. Behind the ear drum are the ossicles, commonly known as the hammer anvil and stirrup that contract and relax in response to the vibration of the eardrum.

Glue ear is a common middle-ear condition, particularly in children, that can cause a conductive hearing loss. If glue ear is persistent it might require ENT intervention and the placement of grommets. Although not as common, it can also occur in adults. If grommets are unsuitable the resulting hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids.

The Inner Ear

In the inner ear, you have the cochlea, vestibule and semicircular canals. The cochlea has a special frequency organisation (tonotopic), which allows us to hear high frequency sounds differently from low-frequency sounds. The vestibule and semicircular canals allow us to remain balanced.

Age-related hearing loss or presbycusis is hearing loss due to deterioration of the hair cells in the cochlea.

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