March 31, 2006, Newsletter Issue #9: A Hair-Raising Story

Tip of the Week

You might say that hearing loss starts with little tiny hairs. These hairs are not on your head or in your nose, however. They are inside our heads. Scientists tell us that we humans have between 50,000 to 60,000 of them in our inner ear. Most sounds we hear begin as air disturbances that produce sound waves. These waves are channeled through the ear canal to hit the eardrum, causing vibrations. This moves tiny bones behind the eardrum, and the vibration is felt in the fluid in the inner ear. The fluid moves tiny hairs that convert the vibrations in the fluid into nerve impulses, which are then transmitted to the brain. Loud noises, over time, can make the hair cells disappear. Once we lose these tiny hairs, our hearing can never be perfect again. So, if you want to save your tiny little hairs, always remember to wear hearing protection when the world around you starts pumping up the volume.

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