Hearing can be one of the most important of our five human senses. Healthy hearing empowers us and enriches our lives. The ear is the most sensitive sensory organ of human beings. It is through hearing that we are able to communicate with people, socialize with family and friends, and sense the world. Think of all the precious sounds you hear everyday - someone laughing, birds singing, music playing, a car approaching.
Hearing is also used to warn us of any danger, and connect us with the outside world. Hearing can lead us to have a better life among our loved ones. The sound of a voice helps develop a language, helps you improve as an individual, connects you with people, and moves you along your journey of life without restrictions.
"The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex… For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus--the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man." - Helen Keller
Our ears are working 24 hours. Even when we sleep, they pick up any sound waves and these signals are processed and then passed on to the brain, where they are interpreted. Hearing loss is becoming more and more common and it is essential to take precautions to prevent hearing loss from occurring or progressing.
Healthy hearing is important in all stages of life. Some people feel that their hearing declines - and it will at some point for all of us - only as they get older, but the truth is hearing problems can occur at any stage of our lives. So, it is important to watch for signs of hearing loss.
How Do We Hear?
Hearing is magical. You don't need to sense any touch or physical contact, or even do any movement to feel the hearing. Hearing just “happens”. And this is how it happens:
- Sound waves enter the outer ear and travel through a narrow passageway called ear canal, which leads to the eardrum.
- The eardrum vibrates and sends these vibrations to three small bones( malleus, incus, and stapes) in the middle ear.
- The bones increase the sound of vibrations and send them to the cochlea (structure filled with fluid located in the inner ear).
- A travelling wave forms along the basilar membrane, sensory cells located at the top of the basilar membrane called hair cells are responsible for riding the waves. Hair cells near the end of the cochlea detect higher-pitched sounds. Hair cells located closer to the centre of the cochlea detect lower-pitched sounds.
- The auditory nerve is responsible for carrying electrical signals created by the movement of the hair cells to the brain, which turns into a sound that we understand.
The human ear is a very well developed part of our bodies at birth, and even before birth, infants respond to sound. The ability to hear and to understand the world around us begins before we are born and continues to improve as we grow.