To better understand hearing loss, it’s helpful to know how hearing works. Most of us rarely give a second thought to this basic sense, but hearing is actually a surprisingly complex process that involves several important stages.
The ear is made up of three parts: the outer ear, containing the external portion of the ear and the ear canal; the middle ear, which includes the eardrum and the a trio of tiny bones called the ossicles; and the inner ear, consisting of the cochlea and auditory nerve. All three work in conjunction with the brain to process sound.
Sound waves enter the outer ear, and are funneled through the auditory canal to the middle ear. They cause the eardrum to vibrate and pass through the ossicles before reaching the inner ear. There, the sound vibrations cause fluid in the cochlea to move, stimulating the hair cells. The vibrations are transformed into electrical impulses and sent to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.