Ear, Nose, and Throat Facts The ear consists of three areas—the outer, middle, and inner ear. The nose is the organ of smell and is part of the peripheral nervous system. The throat is a ring-like muscular tube that acts as the passageway for air, food, and liquid. Otolaryngology Otolaryngology is the medical specialty that focuses on medical and surgical treatment for patients who have disorders of the ear, nose, throat, and related structures. Audiology Audiologists address hearing and balance problems in people of all ages. They also help with the fitting and management of hearing aids. Hearing Loss In some people, hearing loss can be surgically corrected. For others, medical devices and rehabilitation therapies often can help reduce hearing loss. Presbycusis Presbycusis is the gradual loss of hearing that occurs as people age. One in three older adults older than 60 has hearing loss. Half of people older than 75 have hearing loss. Tinnitus Tinnitus is the sound of ringing, roaring, buzzing, or clicking that occurs inside the head. The sounds may come and go, be continuous, occur in one or both ears, and vary in pitch. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss When the ears are exposed to extremely loud noises, or to prolonged loud noises, inner ear structures can be damaged, leading to noise-induced hearing loss. Acoustic Neuroma Acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous tumor that may develop from an overproduction of Schwann cells that press on the hearing and balance nerves in the inner ear. Ménière's Disease Meniere's disease is a balance disorder caused by an abnormality found in a section of the inner ear called the labyrinth. Hearing Aids Hearing aids are electronic or battery-operated devices that can amplify and change sound. A microphone receives the sound and converts it into sound waves. The sound waves are then converted into electrical signals. Hearing and Speech Communication Services and Devices In addition to hearing aids, many other devices are available to help improve communication in daily life. These range from telephone amplifiers to visual alarm systems.