How We Hear

The human ear can be divided into three main parts which lead up to the brain: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear.

Outer Ear

Ear Diagram - How we hearAlso known as the pinna or auricle, the outer ear is the visible part of the ear. Sounds are collected from the surrounding environment and travel down the ear canal to the eardrum, causing it to vibrate.

Middle Ear

The middle ear is a space behind the eardrum, that contains three tiny bones (malleus, incus and stapes) connected to the eardrum. The vibration of the eardrum (or tympanic membrane) cause the small bones to vibrate, creating movement in the fluid of the inner ear.

Inner Ear

The inner ear is made up of two parts: the cochlea, which deals with hearing, and the vestibular system, which affects balance. When there is movement in the fluid of the inner ear, this causes hair cells to move, which send electric signals from the inner ear up the auditory nerve to the brain.

Finally, the brain interprets these electric signals as sound.

Hearing loss can occur in any of these areas of the auditory system. Causes can range from something as simple as ear wax to fluid in the middle ear, hair cell damage caused by loud noise exposure and other issues. Our exam will tell us where the hearing loss is taking place, possible causes and possible solutions.  If there is a medical condition present, we will refer you to your family physician or an otolaryngologist (ENT physician).