Grahame N's Web Pages

A Hearing Check Up!



Ears are the organs of hearing and balance. Looking at the picture below the ears have three sections.

A) The outer ear B) The middle ear C) The inner ear

Noise or soundwaves enter the outer ear (the pinna and external ear canal) and are channelled down the canal until they reach the eardrum. Once the soundwaves reach the eardrum, it vibrates, and the soundwaves then pass into the middle ear. The middle ear is an air-filled cavity that links the outer ear with the inner ear.

Within the middle ear there are three tiny bones stretching from the eardrum to the cochlea (our hearing organ within the inner ear). It is these three bones that mechanically conduct the soundwaves through the middle ear. Once the vibrations of the soundwaves reach the cochlea in the inner ear ear they are converted from mechanical energy to electrical signals.

The cochlea is a fluid filled chamber that looks a bit like a snail shell. When the soundwaves enter the cochlea, the fluid moves and hair-like nerve cells trigger electrical pulses in the auditory nerve. Different hairs pick up different frequencies of sound depending on where they are positioned in the cochlea. The auditory nerve then passes electrical impulses to the brain which recognises them as sounds.


Age-related hearing loss - more than 50% of people over 60 have a hearing loss. This condition is called presbycusis.

Noise exposure - prolonged and repeated exposure to loud noise - at work or leisure can damage hearing.

Diseases of the ear - infections of the middle ear or perforated eardrums can cause a hearing loss.

Genetics - About one in every thousand babies is born moderately deaf.


Conductive deafness - where sound cannot pass freely through the outer or middle ear.

Sensorineural deafness - where the cause of the deafness is in the cochlea or in the hearing nerves. Other names for this kind of deafness include sensory, cochlear, neural and inner ear deafness. Sensorineural deafness often reduces the quality of sound as well as its loudness.


The RNID (Royal Institute for the DEAF) provide a free telephone hearing check service.

Just dial (UK) 0845 600 55 55 - this five minute check will give you an indication of whether you have any hearing loss.

The caller listens to each set of three digits and then identifies them by pressing numbers on the telephone key pad. Full instructions are included in the call. Because the test relies on changing the level of speech relative to noise, it is not affected by the fact that telephones can differ in volume.

There are three potential results from the sound check, indicating various levels of hearing or hearing loss. Anyone taking the test wil be told what they should do next. If it appears that there is some level of hearing loss, you will be advised to go to your GP to get a referral for a hearing test.

Why not join the RNID - it costs from £12.50 a year. Visit: or call (UK) 0845 634 0679.

Return to: EPHEMERA ................ or return to: MAIN MENU

Last updated: 18 July 2015 ..................... ehealthear.htm ........................ Grahame Newnham's Web Pages İMM