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Occupational Health and Safety

fitness & health for all employees

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Your Hearing

The Ear

Ears are your organs of hearing. They are also part of the mechanism that controls your balance.

Your ears have three sections: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear.

The outer ear is the visible part of your ear. It collects sound, which then travels down your ear canal (to your eardrum).

The sound waves cause your eardrum to vibrate. This vibration is passed on to the middle ear, which consists of three small bones called the 'ossicles'. These amplify and conduct the vibrations to the inner ear.

The inner ear contains the cochlea, which is shaped like a snail shell. The cochlea is full of fluid and contains tiny hair cells. The ossicles transmit the vibrations to the fluid inside the cochlea, causing the hair cells to move. The movement of the hair cells produces an electrical signal that travels along the auditory nerve to your brain. Different types of hair cell pick up different frequencies (pitches) of sound.

Hearing Loss

There are two main types of hearing loss – sensorineural and conductive. It is possible to have both types present at the same time – something called a ‘mixed’ hearing loss.

Symptoms of hearing loss

If you have hearing loss:

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your GP.

Tips to protect hearing

Earplugs, earmuffs and canal caps can protect your ears from loud noise by reducing the level of sound reaching your ears. If you are exposed to noise that cannot be stopped, reduced or avoided, you should use earplugs or earmuffs.

For further information and advice on hearing, ear problems and deafness follow the link below:

NHS Hearing Impairments

Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID)