Better understanding of hearing loss begins by understanding how we hear.
Sound waves enter the outer ear and channel along the ear canal to the eardrum.
The impact of the waves on the eardrum creates vibrations, which are transferred through a series of three tiny bones.
The third of these bones is connected to a delicate, snail-shaped structure called the cochlea. The cochlea is filled with fluid and lined with thousands of microscopic hairs.
The vibrations are transmitted to the fluid inside the cochlea, where the hairs are bent by the wave-like action of this fluid. The bending of these hairs sets off nerve impulses, which are then passed through to the central auditory nerves.
The auditory nerves carry the signal to the primary auditory cortex, or hearing centre of the brain, which translates the impulses into what we perceive as ‘sound’.