Understand How Hearing Works

The auditory system is a complex subject. It's important you understand how nature intended hearing to work and compare that with what happens with a person who has hearing loss.

This knowledge will help you to feel more comfortable and confident that you are making the right choice for you, your child or loved one.

Hearing is the process of sound traveling through the outer, middle and inner ear. Natural hearing is dependent on all of these parts working together, and a problem with any of them can cause a hearing loss.

Chart showing how hearing works and the parts of the ear

Parts of the ear:

Outer ear consists of the outer part that you can see (the pinna) and the ear canal.

Middle ear consists of the eardrum, the three tiny connected bones (ossicles), which are often referred to as the hammer, anvil and stirrup.

Inner ear contains the snail-shaped cochlea and the hearing nerve, as well as semicircular canals that help with balance.

Each part of the ear plays a critical role in transmitting sound to the brain. Although sound enters through the ear, it is interpreted by the brain, so essentially you hear with both your ears and your brain.

Watch the video below to understand how natural hearing works.



If any part of the outer, middle or inner ear isn’t working properly, your hearing may be affected. To gain a better understanding of hearing loss, read about the various types and degrees of hearing loss.

Many people who suffer from hearing loss choose to ignore the symptoms altogether. Little do they know, not treating hearing loss has a wide range of negative effects.1,2


  1. Kochkin, S. Consequences of Hearing Loss. Better Hearing Institute [Internet]. 2013 [Cited 2013 July]. Available from: http://www.betterhearing.org/hearing_loss/consequences_of_hearing_loss/index.cfm
  2. Kochkin, S. & Rogin, C. Quantifying the Obvious: The Impact of Hearing Aids on Quality of Life. The Hearing Review. 2000 Jan;7(1):8-34.