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Diagnostic Services

How do we Hear?

Normal Hearing

Sound enters the auditory canal and vibrates the eardrum. The three smallest bones in the body, the ossicles, are sent into motion by the vibrating eardrum. The motion of the stapes bone displaces fluid within the cochlea. Fluid displacement results in the movement of tiny hairs cells, which in turn sends an neural impulse up the auditory nerve to be interpreted by the brain.



Conductive Hearing Loss

Interference to the transmission of sound in the outer or middle ear. Some of the most common causes of conductive hearing loss include:


o Otitis media (ear infection)
o Otosclerosis
o Cerumen impaction




Sensorineaural Hearing Loss

Damage to the hair cells in the cochlea or the auditory nerve. Some of the most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:


o Aging
o Excessive Noise Exposure





Mixed Hearing Loss

 Combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing losses




To learn more about "How do we Hear?" click here


* for a detailed explanation of the anatomy and physiology of the auditory system, refer to Zemlin 1998
**information contained above is compliments of Northwestern University Audiology Department.