How We Hear
Before we can begin to understand how hearing loss happens and what a diagnosis of a specific type of hearing loss might mean, it is important to have a basic understanding of how hearing works. To the right is a picture of the auditory, or hearing, system, which we generally break into three parts: The outer, middle, and inner ears. The outer ear describes everything from the ear outside the head to the eardrum, the middle ear describes the space and structures from the eardrum to the cochlea (the snail shell structure inside the skull), and the inner ear describes the cochlea with all the structures inside it and the hearing nerve that carries sound to the brain. Each of these three parts of the auditory system are described below, along with how they contribute to hearing and some issues that can arise to cause hearing loss.