How Hearing Works

A lot of work goes in to each sound we hear!  This is a great summary provided by the Listening And Spoken Language Knowledge Center

How Hearing Works

  • The outer ear collects sound waves moving through the air and directs them to the eardrum.
  • The eardrum vibrates with sound.
  • Sound vibrations move from the eardrum through the ossicles (bones in the middle ear) to the cochlea.
  • Sound vibrations cause the fluid and tiny hair cells inside the cochlea to move.
  • Hair cell movement creates neural signals, which are picked up by the auditory nerve.
  • The auditory nerve sends signals to the brain, where they are interpreted as sounds and speech.

Diagram of the earHearing is a complex process that involves many parts of the ear working together to convert sound waves into information that the brain understands and interprets as sounds. The ear consists of three main parts as seen in the diagram: the outer ear (the external ear and the ear canal), the middle ear (the ear drum and the three very small bones that make up the ossicular chain: the malleus, incus and stapes) and the inner ear (the cochlea and auditory nerve). The sense of hearing is an intricate balance of processes requiring a series of actions and reactions to work.

Sound travels through the air in waves, which when picked up result in a series of vibrations within the ear. First, sound waves enter the outer ear and pass into the ear canal where the waves cause the eardrum to vibrate. Next, those vibrations are transmitted to the bones of the middle ear causing them to also vibrate. Finally, those vibrations pass through to the innermost part of the ear, which is the cochlea. Within the cochlea are tiny hair cells surrounded by fluid. When the fluid reacts to the vibrations transmitted from the middle ear, the tiny cells send signals to the auditory nerve, which in turn transmits information to the brain. The brain then interprets those signals into meaningful sounds, such as speech.

The cochlea is a snail shell-shaped organ. Different parts of the cochlea are responsible for responding to different frequencies of sound, with the narrow end responding to low frequencies and the wider end responding to high frequencies.

A presence of hearing loss may exist if any part of the hearing process is not functioning properly.



Better Hearing Could Save Your Life

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Why settle for silence? Tech advances improving treatment for hearing loss. This is an article from the Chicago Tribune by Harvard Health Letters


Getting older comes with many challenges. Vision isn’t as clear as it used to be. Joints don’t move as effortlessly, or as painlessly, as they once did. And hearing everything from conversations to concerts can become more difficult. By age 65, one in three of us will have more trouble hearing the sounds around us. By age 75, that percentage jumps to nearly half.While we’ll wear glasses to read and take NSAIDs to ease our joint pain, many of us are reluctant to wear hearing aids to catch the sounds we’re missing. Only 25 percent of people who need hearing aids actually own them.

While hearing aids won’t restore damage to the inner ear, “they substantially reduce the work of hearing if you wear them constantly,” says Dr. Chris Halpin, clinical associate in the Department of Audiology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and associate professor of otology and laryngology at Harvard Medical School.

“If you’re having trouble hearing people talking and you’re really having to work hard at it, you should get an evaluation to see why that is, and whether you need a hearing aid,” Dr. Halpin says.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000 per hearing aid, depending on the style and features you choose. Also factor in the costs of batteries and getting your hearing aid serviced. Don’t expect your insurance company to pick up the cost. Medicare and most private insurance companies consider hearing aids elective, and therefore won’t pay for them.

If you can’t afford hearing aids, there are organizations that can help, including the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Hear Now program; go online to or call 800-328-8602.


Begin with a visit to an otolaryngologist, who will examine you to rule out conditions or medications that can cause hearing loss. If a medical condition isn’t to blame, you’ll then see an audiologist, a specialist who diagnoses and treats hearing loss. The audiologist will ask you about your hearing history: when the problem began, who else in your family has hearing loss, and whether you have symptoms like pain or ringing in your ears.

Then you’ll undergo a hearing test in a sound booth wearing headphones. You’ll hear a variety of beeping sounds. The audiologist will ask you to raise a finger to signal that you’ve heard the sounds. Another test will check your ability to recognize speech. These tests can identify whether you’ll benefit from using a hearing aid, and help the audiologist customize it to your type and degree of hearing loss.


Like any technology–from cars to computers–hearing aids come in a range of models and prices. You can pay anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. But unlike buying a luxury car or top-of-the-line laptop, you won’t necessarily get better performance at a higher price point.

“What you want to do is cut through the marketing and ask, ‘Do I hear well through this?'” says Dr. Halpin. “Put it on your ear, turn it up loud, and ask, ‘Do I like this?’ That’s what you’re after. The fanciness is not that important.”

In fact, one of the most important features on a hearing aid is also the most basic: the volume control. Buying a hearing aid without a volume control is like buying a TV without one, Dr. Halpin says. Yet many of the smallest hearing aids offer no way to adjust the sound level.

When you try out a hearing aid, the volume should go up louder than you’d want to wear it, but before it starts whistling. Getting a hearing aid that’s louder than you think you need will allow you to hear things you haven’t heard in a long time, like an actor on stage at a theater.

Once you’ve found a model you like, your audiologist will fine-tune it by programming in your needs. For example, you might prefer a softer, tinnier sound or a louder, deeper sound.

Along with your hearing aid, or in lieu of it, are other technologies that can improve your ability to hear. When you go to a play or concert, check to see if the venue offers a receiver or headset, which will deliver the sound of the performers directly without background noise.

You can also buy special headphones to help you hear the TV at home more clearly without having to turn the volume up full blast. There are devices that can connect your hearing aid to your cell phone to boost sound and reduce distortion. To learn more about hearing assistive technologies, see the online guide from the Hearing Loss Association of America:


Once you have a hearing aid (or aids), here are a few ways to further enhance your ability to hear:

1. Wear them. Hearing aids won’t help if you leave them sitting in a drawer. Don’t just wear your hearing aids for special occasions–put them on every day.

2. Recruit family and friends. Tell people around you that you want to understand them, and for that to happen, they need to face you when speaking and avoid yelling. Ideally, try to hold conversations in a quiet room where background noise is not a distraction.

3. Fix issues. See your audiologist if you have problems with your hearing aid–like a whistling or buzzing noise, or discomfort.


Even the best hearing aid available today can’t restore lost hearing. It can only amplify sound. The turning point in the treatment of hearing loss could come from the ability to re-grow the hair cells in the ear that pick up sounds and send them to the brain for processing.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School announced in June 2013 that they’ve been able to regenerate damaged hair cells in the ears of mice, restoring at least partial hearing in the process.

“There’s a known set of frequencies that are important for speech, and if you could regenerate even a small patch in that area you’d get a giant jump in recognition,” Dr. Halpin says.

There’s no telling when researchers might be able to successfully regenerate these hair cells in humans, or whether the therapy would constitute a cure for that type of hearing loss. Until hearing loss research turns this important corner, the best way to ensure better hearing is to get fitted for the right hearing aid and to wear it every day. – Harvard Women’s Health Watch


Food Allergies?

How To Eat Out With Food Allergies

As the above article states, “just because you’ve been diagnosed with food allergies… doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying food”.

According to Food Allergy Research & Education, researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies.  Don’t let an allergy attack be a surprise.  Our clinic offers comprehensive food and environmental allergy testing, that is a quick and painless procedure.  We also offer allergy solutions.  With the advent of sublingual drops, you no longer need to come in to the office for allergy shots.  Allergy drops are taken on your own time, and can offer long term relief for a little as $15-25/month.  These are real results.

Get tested.  Find your allergies before they find you, and don’t let them stop you from living your life.  The link to the article above provides tips on how to eat out with food allergies.

This Is Powerful…

What does hearing loss sound like?

Get your hearing checked so you can hear the world.

Facts About Hearing

Facts About Hearing

  • Sitting close to loudspeakers at concerts (which can reach about 120 decibels) can damage your hearing in just 7.5 minutes.
  • At the age of 65, one in three adults has some hearing loss; however, a majority of the people who suffer from hearing loss are under age 65
  • Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States
  • Excessive noise exposure is the #1 cause of hearing loss
  • The bones in the middle ear (malleus, incus, and stapes) are the body’s smallest bones.
  • 37% of children with hearing loss fail at least one grade.
  • The outer ear never stops growing throughout one’s lifetime.
  • The middle ear is about the size of an M&M.
  • The inner ear is no larger than a pencil eraser in circumference.
  • Not all living creatures hear with ears.  Snakes use jawbones, fish respond to pressure changes, and male mosquitoes use antennae.
  • The eardrum moves less than a billionth of an inch in response to sound.
  • In World War I parrots were kept on the Eiffel Tower in Paris because of their remarkable sense of hearing.  When the parrots heard enemy aircraft, they warned everyone of the approaching danger long before any human ear would hear it.
  • Earwax has been useful to anthropologists for studying mankind’s early migratory patterns.


Information provided by

Facts About Hearing

New Audiology Blog Post:

Facts About Hearing 

Did you know that snakes hear through jaw bones, and that parrots have such good hearing they were used as a resource in WWI?

Learn more on the blog!

May Is Better Hearing Month!

May Is Better Hearing Month!

Celebrate the sounds of your life!

Amazing Video- the beauty of sound in water!

Sound is a beautiful thing. If you feel like you are not hearing all of the sounds you want to in life, get your hearing checked!