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Audiologist in Training Writes

Teens-062912

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It’s time for finals and I’ve been studying hard for all of my exams. My favorite class this semester was audiology, and studying more about the field has solidified my decision to pursue audiology as a career.

In the beginning, we focused mostly on the anatomy of the auditory structures. Not just the outer ear – the one people get pierced or make fun of if it sticks out too much – but also the middle and inner ear. The middle ear contains the three tiniest bones in your body. They magnify sounds from the outside and transfer the mechanical signals into the inner ear and the cochlea. The cochlea contains the fluid that stays in contact with thousands of little hair cells, which are connected to nerve ending. This is where the sound wave – mechanical signals – are made into electrical signals and carried to the auditory processing portions of the brain.

Learning about the normal chain of events that happens automatically to make you hear is inspiring to begin with. And that’s before you begin to consider the vestibular system that controls your sense of balance, and which can be extremely debilitating when impaired. Just ask anyone who has ever experienced vertigo!

In our recent unit I learned about the myriad of things that could go wrong and the disorders related to ear function. There are conditions relating every area that should be opened and for when they are closed. For example, otic atresia, a narrow or malformed ear canal; patulous or chronically open eustachian tube, which regulates middle ear pressure; perforation of the tympanic membrane or ear drum – just to name a few. Otosclerosis, the leading cause of hearing loss in adults, occurs when the smallest of the tiny bones, the stapes, is immobilized and can’t pass on the vibration messages as it’s should.

Reciting the blessing of Asher Yatzar after using the restroom is a way of giving thanks for our digestive health and overall bodily functioning. Saying Asher Yatzar becomes automatic for many, but if we do give it a moment’s thought, let’s keep in mind our miraculous ability to hear together with all the heart valve and digestive openings and closings too!

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