The ability to perceive sounds and vibrations is known as hearing. The ear is the organ that helps us perceive sound and is one of the traditional five senses. The ear, primarily the auditory system, detects any kind of sound or vibration. There are three main components of the human ear: the outer ear, middle and the inner ear. The outer ear or the pinna is the visible part along with the ear canal, which leads to the eardrum or the tympanic membrane. The middle ear is a small air-filled chamber which houses the three smallest bones in the body called ossicles. The middle ear helps in the transmission of the vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. The inner ear consists of the cochlea and is a spiral shaped, fluid filled tube. It has a structure that vibrates when waves from the middle ear propagate through the cochlear fluid. This sound from the cochlea travels from the auditory nerve to the cochlear nucleus in the brain stem. Hearing is measured by behavioural tests using an audiometer. When one or more of these mechanisms are affected, there can be hearing loss. Hearing loss can be of different types. They are conductive hearing loss, sensor neural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss. There are also various degrees of hearing loss, like mild, moderate and severe. Hearing loss can be hereditary, congenital and acquired. Acquired hearing loss can occur due to exposure to excessive noise, drugs and infection.
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