Hearing Blog

Ears Contain an Alternative Route for Pain

March 15, 2024

Recent research from Northwestern University suggests that the ears contain a unique route for pain. These pain receptors send indications to our brain thereby functioning as a caution to aid in protection from hearing damage caused by loud noises.

The research study mentioned above was published in the Current Biology in 2015, and reports that there consist two separate interconnections of nerves that help transport sound signals to our ears. One specific route promptly encourages us to put our fingers in our ears to plug them up when we hear extremely loud noises, such as the constant noise of a siren or firecrackers. Sounds that are not quite as loud get transmitted through the second nerve pathway and do not lead to this type of behavioral protection of our ears.

This alternative route within the ears is known as the auditory nociception (which is basically responsible for pain) and consists of a collection of neurons. These neurons are set in motion when the delicate hair follicles within the inner ear are damaged due to unsafe degrees of sound. This alternative pathway of neurons could be the reason that contributes to tinnitus.

It is important to note that the delicate hair follicles located in the inner ear are not able to regenerate once they die. This is the reason that hearing impairment is a permanent condition. The body already provides you with an instinctive protective tendency so that you immediately cover your ears when confronted with unsafe, loud noises. Pay close attention to what your body is telling you the next time you hear a loud noise and take protective measures to protect your ears from permanent damage.