Understanding How The Ear Works

Hearbase ear anatomy

So many of our patients ask our audiologists how their hearing works and what the different parts of the ear do exactly.

Joana Carvalho

So, we asked our senior audiologist at our Deal branch, Joana Carvalho, to write a brief (and we hope not too technical) explanation for our blog.

The human ear is one of the wonders of nature – so intricate and complex – but of course, that intricacy means quite often things can go wrong or need specialist intervention.

That’s where we come in.

We hope you find the article from Joana of interest, and that it helps you to see just how highly trained our staff need to be to keep your hearing in the best condition.

The ear is the organ of hearing and balance. The parts of the ear include:

External or outer ear, consisting of:

Pinna or auricle. This is the outside part of the ear.

External auditory canal or tube. This is the tube that connects the outer ear to the inside or middle ear.

Tympanic membrane (eardrum). The tympanic membrane divides the external ear from the middle ear.

Middle ear (tympanic cavity), consisting of:

Ossicles. Three small bones that are connected and transmit the sound waves to the inner ear. The bones are called:

Malleus

Incus

Stapes

Eustachian tube. A canal that links the middle ear with the back of the nose. The eustachian tube helps to equalise the pressure in the middle ear. Equalised pressure is needed for the proper transfer of sound waves. The eustachian tube is lined with mucous, just like the inside of the nose and throat.

Inner ear, consisting of:

Cochlea. This contains the nerves for hearing

Vestibule and Semicircular Canals. This contains receptors for balance.

The eustachian tube.

Hearing starts with the outer ear. When a sound is made outside the outer ear, the sound waves, or vibrations, travel down the external auditory canal and strike the eardrum (tympanic membrane). The eardrum vibrates.

The vibrations are then passed to three tiny bones in the middle ear called the ossicles. The ossicles amplify the sound. They send the sound waves to the inner ear and into the fluid-filled hearing organ (cochlea).

Once the sound waves reach the inner ear, they are converted into electrical impulses. The auditory nerve sends these impulses to the brain. The brain then translates these electrical impulses as sound.

If you have noticed a change to your hearing, no matter how small, call us on 0800 028 6179 or email admin@hearbase.com so our experts can take a look and check your ear is working as it should!