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.
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 your ear.
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 chambers 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 eighth 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, you will most likely never hear like you you did at 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.