Imagine yourself miniaturized and given the opportunity to take a grand tour through your hearing mechanism. For the purpose of illustration, your trip is being booked with Eartrak, a subsidiary of Amtrak. Eartrak departs from your ear canal and is scheduled to make stops at the tympanic membrane, ossicular chain, oval window, cochlea and auditory nerve. The trip begins now!
Eartrak slowly moves through your ear canal … with most of you noticing that your ear canal is composed of cartilage and bone, as well as glands, which produce earwax and help maintain the temperature within that space. Eartrak enters your tympanic membrane or eardrum, which vibrates in response to sound.
The tympanic membrane is composed of three layers of skin and attached to the membrane are three tiny bones (malleus, incus, stapes), which make up the ossicular chain.
The ossicular chain vibrates in response to eardrum vibration and sends Eartrak through the middle ear space into the inner ear space (i.e., cochlea) through the oval window.
The cochlea is snail shaped and is composed of many labyrinths and hair cells, which move in response to sound vibration. Eartrak slowly moves through the hearing mechanism until it reaches the auditory nerve (i.e., the 8th cranial nerve), which takes the auditory impulses and sends it up to the brain for interpretation.
Your hearing mechanism is quite complicated. Although hearing aids will help compensate for your hearing loss (to some degree), you will never hear like you were 20 years old. That’s why it is important to have realistic expectations about the benefits of amplification.
Before purchasing a hearing aid, it is important that you discuss (with your audiologist or dispenser) all the benefits and all the limitations of wearing a hearing aid. Being prepared (particularly if you are a first time hearing aid user) will significantly increase your satisfaction with your hearing instrument.
Dr. Izzy and his staff are always available to answer your questions about hearing care. Feel free to visit our website at www.gardenstatehearing.com