How does an ear work?

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Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
When sound waves travel down the ear canal, they strike the eardrum (what your pediatrician is looking at to see if there is an ear infection), which vibrates and sets the small bones in the middle ear into motion. The middle-ear bones, through a lever system, amplify the incoming sound pressure by thirty decibels. The cochlea houses the actual end organ of hearing, the organ of Corti, which consists of multiple rows of delicate hair cells that are the receptors for the auditory nerve. The organ of Corti converts the mechanical energy arriving from the middle ear into electrical energy. The hair cells release neurotransmitters that generate impulses that go up the auditory pathway to the brain. Also, when stimulated, the outer hair cells produce very soft sounds called otoacoustic emissions (OAEs), which are used for newborn hearing screening.
YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

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YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

There’s little doubt that parenting can be one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences you’ll ever have. But it can be plenty tough, too: Around the clock, you’re working to keep your...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.