Have you ever wondered how your ears work?

Let’s do a tour of this wonderfully complex system!


This is how a normal hearing system works:




  1. The Pinna, or the visible part on the outside of your head, collects and funnels sound in to the ear canal.
  2. Sound then travels down the ear canal to the eardrum (or Tympanic Membrane) which vibrates. The eardrum is the barrier between the Outer ear and the Middle ear.
  3. When the eardrum vibrates it pushes on the three middle ear bones. These are the smallest bones in your body: the Malleus, the Incus and the Stapes. They perform a lever-type effect to amplify the vibrations.
  4. The footplate of the last middle ear bone, the Stapes, causes waves in the fluid-filled Cochlea (the Inner ear).
  5. Tiny hair cells inside the Cochlea pick up the fluid movement, convert the signal to an electrical signal, which then transmits up the nerves to your brain.

Any blockage or problem along the way can cause hearing loss.

  • A growth or even excessive wax build-up in the ear canal can block sound from getting through.
  • A perforation in the eardrum can interfere with sound transmissions. Fluid in the middle ear space (common in children) can block the movement of the eardrum and ossicles.
  • Infection can occur in any of these spaces, including affecting the fluid in the Cochlea.
  • Perhaps most common is damage to the hair cells in the Cochlea due to aging or excessive noise exposure.
  • Any of the above can also cause tinnitus, or ringing or buzzing in your ears.

If you have concerns about your ears, your hearing, or tinnitus, book in with an Audiologist for a full evaluation.

He/she will thoroughly check each part of your ears and refer you for further medical investigation if necessary.

If hearing loss is permanent, and nothing medical needs to be checked, your Audiologist may recommend hearing aids. You’d be surprised how fantastic modern hearing aids are these days.

Dr-Teresa-BurnsFor more information about hearing, communication and hearing aids you can contact Teresa Burns, Audiologist and Owner of Teresa Burns Hearing Ltd, Auckland New Zealand.

(09) 475 9849 or  teresaburnshearing.co.nz