How The Human Hearing Works

How The Human Hearing Works

The human body is an extremely complex organism and our ears and the way we hear things are no exception. The ears are sensory organs that enable us to listen to one another, communicate, and enjoy our favorite TV shows and music.

If you are struggling with your hearing, it may be time to check out how human hearing works in order to get to the bottom of your problem.

Man with hand on ear listening for quiet sound or paying attention.

With this in mind, we’ve created this article. In it, you’ll find out what a decibel is. We’ll also tell you about the frequencies that humans can pick up as well share how natural hearing works.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

What Is A Decibel?

The decibel is used to measure the intensity of sound. Put simply, it measures the degree of loudness. The decibel scale is very peculiar because of the nature of the human ear.

The human ear can hear everything from footsteps to a plane taking off, both of which are on completely opposite ends of the decibel scale. On this scale, the smallest audible sound is of 0dB.

While a sound 10 times more powerful is 10dB, one that is 100 times more powerful actually falls at 20 dB. On the other hand, one that is 1,000 times louder than near total silence is 30dB.

Hearing loss can start happening with sounds that are over 85dB. Overexposure to this level of sound can cause people to go deaf or permanently impair their hearing, thus leading them with no choice but to wear hearing aids.

In order to find out why people lose their hearing, professionals first have to find out how hearing works. This starts with the decibel scale.

Why Is The Decibel Scale Logarithmic?

The logarithmic scale is used when there is a large range of quantities. The scale is nonlinear and is based on orders of magnitude. This scale is typically used where larger quantities result in higher values.

The decibel scale is logarithmic because some sounds can be millions of times more powerful than others. Instead of saying a sound is a specific million of times more powerful than another, we use the decibel scale, which simplifies the situation.

Frequencies Humans Can Pick Up

Frequencies are the number of vibrations that are produced per second. A frequency is measured in Hertz. One vibration per second is equal to one Hertz.

Frequencies illustrated.

Typically, low frequencies have low pitches while high frequencies have high pitches. A healthy young person’s range of hearing is 20 to 20,000 Hertz. This range gets worse as we age. Additionally, high range frequencies become more difficult to hear as we age.

Once a person is middle-aged, the range of hearing usually ranges from 12 to 4 kilohertz. Research also suggests that the hearing range for men reduces more quickly than that of women as they age.

In terms of the decibel scale, near total silence is 0dB while a whisper can be approximately 15dB. A normal conversation is approximately 60dB while the sound of a lawnmower, for example, is about 90dB.

As mentioned before, exposure to sounds over 85dB for prolonged amounts of time can affect your hearing. In fact, it can cause hearing loss. The best way to identify if a sound is that loud is to be aware of how loudly you are speaking in comparison to it.

If you have to raise your voice in order for someone to hear you, you are likely being exposed to a sound above 85dB.

Research also suggests that exposure to sounds higher than 90dB for more than eight hours can cause damage to the ears and exposure to sounds of more than 140dB can cause immediate damage and high levels of pain.

How Natural Hearing Works

Hearing is one of your most important senses. It allows you to have conversations with people, voice your opinions, share your beliefs, and even enjoy your favorite movies and music. But, how human hearing works is different to your sense of smell, taste, and vision.

While these all involve chemical reactions, hearing is a mechanical process and that is based on physical movement.

As mentioned above, an object or person makes sound when it vibrates. We hear sounds as they travel through our atmosphere. When objects move, they send a wave of pressure which ripples through the atmosphere.

The only difference between the sounds we hear are their frequencies. If the frequency is high, the air pressure fluctuation is switching back and forth more quickly. This will create a higher pitched sound. If the air pressure fluctuation is slower, the pitch is lower.

Once sound has been created, it’s up to the ear to catch those waves and send them to the brain.

When catching sound, the sound must go towards the hearing part of the ear. It must then sense the changes in pressure and finally, translate these changes in a way that the brain can understand.

Take a bell, for example. When a bell is hit, it vibrates. As the bell vibrates it pushes on the air particles that surround it. These particles then push against the ones next to them and those push on the particles next to them and the cycle continues.

Bells ringing.

These sounds then reach the ear and enter its hearing part. The ear senses the fluctuations in air pressure and our body then translates these fluctuations into an electrical signal that is sent to the brain and translated.

Give Yourself The Hearing You Deserve

Today, when our hearing becomes impaired, whether it is because of age, a medical condition, or an accident, we have the opportunity to minimize the impact this has on our lifestyle.

Thanks to new and advanced technologies, you can choose between a mound of hearing aids, all of which are not noticeable and extremely efficient in a variety of different situations where hearing can be an issue.

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