Our senses have warning systems to alert us to possible dangers. A bitter taste warns us away from poisons. A putrid smell alerts us that food may not be safe to eat. Our eyes close automatically when exposed to a flash of light. Pain receptors in our skin warn us to pull away from something hot.
But what about hearing? We all know that noise damages our hearing, and most of us have thought of hearing as an anomaly among the senses: the only one without a defense mechanism.
Now researchers think they have discovered a pain receptor system in the ears, and it may be why we instinctively put our fingers in our ears or clap our hands over them when we hear an ambulance or a jackhammer or other loud noise…..