Hearing & Balance Center | Hearing Glossary

hearing disorders

Hearing & Balance Center

Auditory nerve – bundle of nerve fibers that carry electrical impulses between the inner ear and the brain

Auditory canal – also called the ear canal, it conducts sound toward the eardrum

Cochlea – part of the inner ear, contains fluid and hair-like nerve cells that convert mechanical energy from the middle ear into electrical impulses

Conductive hearing loss – any hearing loss caused by damage or disease in the outer or middle ears

Eustachian tube – a tube that extends from the middle ear to the roof of the throat; it keeps the air pressure in the middle ear consistent with the air pressure in the immediate environment

Incus – the anvil shaped bone; middle bone of the ossicular chain (the three tiny bones that connect the eardrum and the inner ear)

Inner ear – part of the ear that contains the cochlea, an organ of hearing, and the labyrinth, an organ of balance

Mastoid – the section of the skull located behind the outer ear that houses the middle and inner ears

Malleus – the hammer shaped bone; outermost of the ossicles, the three tiny bones that connect the eardrum and inner ear

Middle ear – the air-containing cavity of the ear; lying between the eardrum and the inner ear, it includes the eardrum and the ossicles, which are the three tiny bones called malleus, incus and stapes

Ossicles – a linkage of three tiny bones - the malleus, incus and stapes, also known as the hammer, anvil and stirrup; they provide the mechanical coupling between the eardrum and the cochlea

Outer ear – the part of the ear that captures sound; it is composed of the visible parts of the ear and the canal leading to the eardrum

Pinna, or auricle – the portion of the ear that is visible from the outside, made up of cartilage and skin; it funnels sound into the ear canal and protects the rest of the ear

Semicircular canals – the body's balance organs, they detect the body's movement and communicate its position to the brain

Sensorineural hearing loss – hearing loss caused by damage or disease in the inner ear

Stapes – the stirrup-shaped ossicle that transmits sound from the incus to the cochlea; the innermost of the ossicles

Temporal bone – the temporal bones form part of the base of the skull; among the hardest of all the bones, it includes the mastoid and protects the hearing and balance systems

Tinnitus – the sensation of a ringing, roaring, or buzzing in the ears or head; it is often associated with many forms of hearing impairment and noise exposure

Tympanic membrane – also called the eardrum, it separates the ear canal from the middle ear, vibrating when sound waves hit it

Vertigo – a false sensation of motion or spinning that leads to dizziness and discomfort