The Marvel of the Ear: Good Hearing

This is how hearing works. The visible outer ear consists of the outer ear or "pinna" and the external auditory canal. The sound is collected here and forwarded to the middle ear or "tympanum". This is a cavity separated by the tympanic membrane, the eardrum. The eardrum begins to vibrate to the sound waves. Tiny bones or "ossicles" amplify this and transmit the sound to the inner ear. This is where the spiral shaped "cochlea" (L. snail shell) is located. It contains fluid and millions of sensory hair cells. These transform the vibrations into electrical impulses. The auditory nerve relays these small electrical pulses to the brain.

Anyone who has difficulty understanding what is being said in a discussion or if there is ambient noise already has reduced hearing ability and should seek medical advice. Many of the causes can be treated with drugs or surgically if there is not too much delay.