Hearing is one of the body’s most advanced and fascinating senses. Below are 10 interesting facts about our auditory system:
Fascinating facts about the ears and hearing that you may not know
- Our sense of balance lies in our ears: the vestibular system is located in the inner ear and is responsible for maintaining equilibrium. In fact, the cause of the majority of cases of vertigo lies within the auditory system.
- The hardest bone: the temporal bone, which protects the inner ear, is the hardest in the human body.
- The smallest bone: the ear also houses the smallest bone in the body. The stapes, or the “stirrup” bone, in the middle ear forms part of the ossicles and is the smallest bone in the human organism.
- Our ears are always working: Did you know that our ears and hearing never rest? When we sleep, our brain is capable of ignoring sounds around us and only reacts to loud or unexpected noises as a defense mechanism that allows us to respond rapidly.
- The 10 most unpleasant noises to the human ear: a study by the University of Newcastle has identified the most unpleasant sounds, which include a knife scraping against a bottle, a fork scratching on a plate, chalk on a blackboard, a ruler on a bottle, nails on a blackboard, a baby crying, an electric drill, rusty swing chains, a person retching and two pieces of expanded polystyrene rubbing together.
- Wax is a natural protective agent: ear wax, or cerumen, is secreted by the body to protect the middle ear against dust, dirt and bacterial or fungal infections. However, when it is secreted in excessive amounts, it can cause buildup and blockages in the ears that affect our hearing.
- The inner ear creates electric impulses: sound waves are transmitted through the different parts of the ear before being converted into electric impulses by the cochlea and organ of Corti.
- A narrow tube unblocks our ears: the Eustachian tube is 3.5 cm in length and connected to the back of the nose. It helps to balance pressure levels in the middle ear and creates the feeling of unblocking or “popping” them.
- Hearing problems can be prevented with diet: Omega 3 fatty acids, which are found in fish such as salmon or tuna, strengthen the blood vessels in the inner ear. Additionally, antioxidants – folic acid in particular – and the consumption of leafy green vegetables such as spinach and romaine lettuce are beneficial in preventing hearing issues caused by exposure to noise.
- We hear music better on our left side: according to a study by the Universities of California and Arizona published in Science magazine, our right ear is more responsive to speech from birth, while the left side is more receptive to continuous tones and musical sounds.
Do you know any more interesting facts about our ears and hearing? If you do, feel free to leave us a comment below or contact us through our website or social media pages. 🙂