Learn About Hearing

How Do Your Hearing Works?

Hearing is one of the essential human body's processes — a complex system of delicate and sensitive components. Your ears are not just about hearing; they also keep your body's balance. Keeping your hearing healthy and safe is vital to maintain the balance of your life. To better understand why and how to protect your hearing, it's significant to know how hearing works.

It’s all about Sound

Sound begins with a vibration in the air. When something vibrates (like a bell or sound) it moves the air particles around, carrying the energy of the vibration through the air as a sound wave. That's where your ear starts to do the job.

From Waves to Words

The outer ear collects the sound waves that are then directed through the ear canal to the eardrum. When the sound waves hit the eardrum forming vibrations, which cause the three bones of the middle ear to move. This process causes the smallest bone, called the stirrup, fits into the oval window between the middle and inner ear. The movements of the oval window cause the fluid in the inner ear to move, carrying energy through a sensitive snail-shaped part called the cochlea.

There are thousands of microscopic hair cells, in the inner ear, that are bent by the movement of the fluid inside the cochlea. This bending creates nerve impulses, which passed through the auditory nerve to the hearing center of the brain. The pulses are then translated into the sound that we recognize.

If any part of this sensitive system breaks down, hearing loss can be the result.

dB and Hertz

Decibel (abbreviated dB) is the sound intensity/volume measurement unit, while Hertz is the sound speed/frequency measurement unit. The decibel scale starts at 0dB sounds that considered as faintest sounds a human ear can identify like a pin dropping, and increase to reach dangerous sounds for the ear such as jet engine takeoff that reaches 140+dB. Experts consider exposure to sounds above 85dB to be hazardous and may cause immediate hearing loss. On the other side, a human cannot hear sounds of every frequency; they can hear frequencies range from 15 to 20,000 Hz.