Hearing Explained

How does the ear work?

When your hearing is working normally, information is being passed through each section of the ear to your brain. Your brain receives these messages and you will naturally respond.

The ear is the organ responsible for hearing and balance. Thanks to its mechanism it makes us receive the sound waves transforming them into proper sounds, making sense to us.

Parts of the Ear

Learn more about the anatomy of your ear!

The importance of well hearing

Hearing is precious because 40% of the information provided by our senses is of auditory origin. Therefore hygiene is very important when it comes to hearing (keeping our ears clean, dealing with earwax)as hearing allows us to locate the source of a sound. Not only that, It also helps us to situate ourselves in space in relation to a sound source, it allows us to understand the environment around us. In every part of the communication process, hearing acts as a sound filter, and it's also able to work in passive mode when unimportant background noise is present. This allows us to focus on other things without overburdening our brain. And without noticing it, the hearing triggers the active mode as soon as important information reaches us: speech, car noise, ringing, etc.

Hearing and balance

Ears, for instance, do also have another important function aside from hearing: balance. Within the inner ear are three ringed canals containing fluid. The link between hearing and balance is determined by the Posterior, Lateral and Anterior canals in the ear that operate on different planes (think of measuring a box: it has length, depth and width) and the way the fluid in these canals moves around is how the brain helps to establish balance.

The continued movement of these fluids is why people feel dizzy after spinning around, before feeling back to normal once the fluid settles again. Ear infections and medical conditions which reach the ear can also, therefore, affect balance as well as hearing. 

Understading sounds and communicate

Our hearing is above all else our most important senses for communication. It is essential for language learning. Thus, hearing problems in babies and children can have a greater impact on their development. Their faculties of expression and interaction with the world around them can be affected. 

Hearing can decode and reproduce the intonations, rhythms, and accentuations of a heard sentence. Each sound, each string of sounds and each variation are as much emotional information for us as they are emotional content communicated by our interlocutor. By analyzing this information, hearing allows us to respond in the most appropriate way using what our auditory system and our brain have learned.

Ear wax and protection

Everyone has earwax and it can be common to have a build up making it hard to hear properly. Although this can be easily removed, it can happen time and time again, causing hearing loss or affecting the performance of existing hearing aids.

How can I improve my hearing?

It is important to be aware of how your hearing works and to identify the situations in which you have difficulty hearing. Speak to a friend or family member as they may be able to give you advice and support and they might even notice changes in your hearing or behaviour that you haven’t.

Perhaps the easiest and best way to protect your hearing is to reassure yourself with our expert advice and support. Here at National Hearing Care we have more than 65 years of experience, and our expert audiologists and audiometrists are dedicated to helping you rediscover what it is like to hear well.

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Ear anatomy

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Causes of hearing loss

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