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Cool Vibrations – How sound works?

July 31, 2014

We hear! Everyday. Without thinking. Well most of us do and unfortunately we sometimes take it for granted. So we thought we would share a little insight into how sound works, what your favourite sounds look like as sound waves and hopefully generate some wonderment at how intelligent your ear really is. And then you will also understand a little of the science behind how we at Southern ENT are attempting to give sound back to those without it.


The “not so boring” science

Sound exists simply because vibrations from an object cause variations of pressure within the medium of air. These vibrations take the form of an oscillating wave and it is this waveform vibration that causes first the eardrum to vibrate and then the middle ear bones which pushes the waves into the cochlea, which is then interpreted as sound. In a nutshell.

Sound waves are simply alternating pressure between high and low. They change by amplitude and frequency and this means loud, soft, or pitch to the normal human ear. Easy hey?



Your favourite sounds to fall asleep to?

We all love the sound of the ocean. It is soothing and it is listed as one of the most relaxing sounds on planet earth. Why?

Well firstly it represents a natural “white noise”; this sound wave helps to block out the noise of daily life and helps you clear your mind.

It is for this reason that many list natural sounds as relaxing. But each individual is different.

Neuroscientists believe that different sound stimuli will work differently in individuals; here are some “sleep better” sounds.


White noise – we briefly touched on white nose. This noise combines all frequencies to block out other sounds. This could be the ocean, forest noises or even the sound of a bedside fan.

Natural sounds – apart from white noise, natural sounds, animal sounds are less likely to annoy us and keep us awake. This is because they fluctuate in amplitude and frequency, unlike many man-made noises.

Your favourite tunes – some people swear by music. Our advice for deep and easy sleep is to avoid lyrical music or hard rock. These sound waves are sharp whereas softer tones of classical or folk music just might do the trick.


No sound to sleep?

When we talk about age related hearing loss (presbyacusis) or noise induced hearing loss -

The tiny hair-like cells in the cochlea no longer become as excited as they should when the waves strike them.

-This means sound cannot be heard as clearly as it should be.


Did you know: Hair cells that respond to high-frequency sounds are more likely to be damaged FIRST than low frequency sounds. That’s why it becomes difficult to hear speech when we get older.

Did you know: High frequency sounds are important for understanding and discriminating words and speech?


If you or a loved one is suffering from hearing loss, give us a call on 012 667 4832 or visit our website. You can stay in touch with us via Facebook or Twitter and we would love to hear from you.








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