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How Hearing Works

Knowing how hearing works is essential especially if you or a family member are experiencing hearing loss or related hearing problems.

Normal ear function facilitates hearing through this process:

  • Sound is picked up and transmitted through the air as sound waves.
  • These sound waves are then gathered by the outer ear, and transmitted through the ear canal to the eardrum.
  • The eardrum vibrates, setting the three tiny bones (ossicles) in the middle ear in motion.
  • The movement of the ossicles then makes the fluid in the cochlea (inner ear) move.
  • The cochlear hair cells convert the movement into electrical impulses.
  • The electrical impulses are transmitted through the auditory nerve to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.

The Outer Ear

The outer part of the ear is called the pinna. With its characteristic grooves and ridges, it provides a natural volume boost for sounds in the 2000-3000 Hz frequency range. It is in this range where many of the consonants are perceived.

The ear canal, also known as the external auditory meatus, is another important part of the outer ear. Lined with a few layers of skin and very fine hair, the ear canal is a highly sensitive area. Earwax (cerumen) accumulates in the ear canal to serve as a protective barrier against bacteria and moisture.

Earwax is a natural secretion however in excess, it may block the ear canal and cause hearing issues.

The Outer Ear

The outer part of the ear is called the pinna. With its characteristic grooves and ridges, it provides a natural volume boost for sounds in the 2000-3000 Hz frequency range. It is in this range where many of the consonants are perceived.

The Middle Ear

The eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, is a thin three-layer structure that divides the outer and middle ear systems.There are three tiny bones of the middle ear located directly behind the tympanic membrane known as the ossicles. The term “ossicle” means “tiny bone.” The three ossicles in the middle ear are the malleus, incus and stapes (hammer, anvil, and stirrup).

The ossicles form a connected chain in the middle ear. The largest of the three bones is the malleus and it is attached to the tympanic membrane. Meanwhile, the stapes (stirrup) is the smallest bone and is attached to the vibratory plate called the oval window, which serves as the divider of the middle ear and inner ear, and the incus connects the two.

The ossicles work by taking the mechanical energy received from the tympanic membrane and sending it to the inner ear for amplification. The Eustachian tube is considered the middle ear’s air pressure equalizing system. Since the middle ear is encased in bone, it has no association to the outside air except through the Eustachian tube.

The tubular structure is normally closed, but it can be involuntarily opened by yawning, swallowing, or chewing. The Eustachian tube can also be intentionally opened to equalize pressure in the ears as when you are flying in an airplane or driving in high elevations

The Outer Ear

The inner ear is located deep within the temporal bone, the skull bone covering both sides of the head above the outer ear. The inner ear has two main structures – the cochlea and the semicircular canals.

Semicircular canals

These structures work primarily to assist in maintaining balance and movement.

Cochlea

The cochlea is the hearing organ of the inner ear. It is a fluid-filled structure that typically looks like a snail. The cochlea is responsible for changing the mechanical vibrations from the tympanic membrane and the ossicles into a sequence of electrical impulses. Sensory cells, also known as hair cells, bend in the cochlea as the fluid is moved by the mechanical vibrations. The bending of the hair cells triggers the electrical signals to be sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. Like a piano, the cochlea is arranged by frequency, encoding sounds from 20 Hertz (Hz) to 20,000 Hz.

The Middle Ear

The eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, is a thin three-layer structure that divides the outer and middle ear systems.There are three tiny bones of the middle ear located directly behind the tympanic membrane known as the ossicles. The term “ossicle” means “tiny bone.” The three ossicles in the middle ear are the malleus, incus and stapes (hammer, anvil, and stirrup).

The ossicles form a connected chain in the middle ear. The largest of the three bones is the malleus and it is attached to the tympanic membrane. Meanwhile, the stapes (stirrup) is the smallest bone and is attached to the vibratory plate called the oval window, which serves as the divider of the middle ear and inner ear, and the incus connects the two.

The ossicles work by taking the mechanical energy received from the tympanic membrane and sending it to the inner ear for amplification. The Eustachian tube is considered the middle ear’s air pressure equalizing system. Since the middle ear is encased in bone, it has no association to the outside air except through the Eustachian tube.

The tubular structure is normally closed, but it can be involuntarily opened by yawning, swallowing, or chewing. The Eustachian tube can also be intentionally opened to equalize pressure in the ears as when you are flying in an airplane or driving in high elevations

The Inner Ear

The inner ear is located deep within the temporal bone, the skull bone covering both sides of the head above the outer ear. The inner ear has two main structures – the cochlea and the semicircular canals.

Semicircular canals

These structures work primarily to assist in maintaining balance and movement.

Cochlea

The cochlea is the hearing organ of the inner ear. It is a fluid-filled structure that typically looks like a snail. The cochlea is responsible for changing the mechanical vibrations from the tympanic membrane and the ossicles into a sequence of electrical impulses. Sensory cells, also known as hair cells, bend in the cochlea as the fluid is moved by the mechanical vibrations. The bending of the hair cells triggers the electrical signals to be sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. Like a piano, the cochlea is arranged by frequency, encoding sounds from 20 Hertz (Hz) to 20,000 Hz.

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Our office is conveniently located off Ben White and Menchaca Road. We take our time with each person, therefore, it is necessary to schedule your appointment in advance.

Testimonials

What People Say?

He loves helping people hear better and have had the pleasure to serve many people for years.
            For 15 years my audiologist Mr Randolph and his assistant have gave me the best service I could ever expect and a 5 Star rating is not enough for them and they deserve the amount of stars in the universe which are unmeasurable just as is my gratitude towards both of them.
——-
Mr. John Smith

Testimonials

What People Say?

He loves helping people hear better and have had the pleasure to serve many people for years.

Frequently Asked Questions

He loves helping people hear better and have had the pleasure to serve many people for years. He provides a comfortable place for people to come have their hearing.

I provide a comfortable place for people to come have their hearing tested and discuss their hearing concerns. I offer a free, no obligation hearing aid evaluation. If it turns out that you are a candidate for hearing aids, there is a 45-day trial period that includes follow up care to assure proper adjustment.