Anatomy of Ear, their parts and health

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Anatomy of ear

We, humans, contain sense organs and the ear is one of them. The ears are the organs of hearing and balance. It is a very sensitive and advanced organ of human body. This section will talk about your ears, their parts, and functions.

The ears come in many shapes and sizes. Typically, men’s ears are larger than women’s ear. Researchers also found that the ear is about 2.5 inches (6.3 centimeters) long, and average ear lobe is 0.74 inches (1.88 cm) long and 0.77 inches (1.96 cm) wide. With the age, the ear does indeed get larger.

When a stone pelted at still water, it creates the ripples from that point in circles. Similarly, a sound source creates waves or pressure variations in the air. In human physiology, a sound is the reception of such sound waves and their perception by the brain.

Outer Ear or external ear or Auris Externa. This is the part of the peripheral ear which is the only visible part in the ear. It consists of fleshy visible Pinna or auricle, ear canal, and eardrum.

  • Pinna consists of outer curving rim helix and inner curving rim antihelix. It opens in the ear canal. The hollow portion is called as concha. The pinna acts as a funnel for sound waves makes the transition smoother. It also helps to overcome the difference in pressure outside and inside the ear.
  • The ear canal stretches around 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. The first part of the canal is surrounded by cartilage and second part near eardrum by bony structure of temporal bone. The protective ear wax is formed by the glands in ear canal surrounding skin. The ear canal ends at the external portion of the eardrum.
  • Eardrums are a more sensitive part of the outer ear. Hence, the auditory canal is slightly curved to protect it from insects, dust, etc. The eardrums vibrate once the sound waves enter through the ear canal.

Anatomy of Ear

Middle Ear. It is a portion of ear starts after eardrum till external part of the oval window. It is also called a tympanic cavity which is air-filled, membrane-lined space. The middle ear consists of three ossicles and their attaching ligaments; the auditory tube, the round, and oval windows.

  • The ossicles are the three small bones malleus (hammer), incus (anvil), and the stapes (stirrup). These tiny bones function together to receive, amplify and transmit the sound from the eardrum to the inner ear. 
  • There are muscles which control the movement of the ossicles. The stapedius muscle is the smallest skeletal muscle connects to the stapes and is controlled by the facial nerve. The tensor tympani muscle connects to the base of the malleus.
  • The pressure in the middle ear is maintained through the Eustachian tubes, which are closed when not in use. Each time a person swallows, the Eustachian tubes open and allow fresh air to enter the tympanic cavity. They are also known as auditory tube.
  • The round window allows for the fluid within the inner ear to move.

Inner Ear. It is the innermost part of the ear consists of Bony labyrinth, a hollow cavity in temporal bone comprising cochlea, vestibules and auditory nerves.

  • The cochlea is a spiral shell-shaped organ responsible for the sense of hearing. The Cochlea consists of three fluid-filled spaces; the vestibular duct, the cochlear duct, and tympanic duct.
  • The vestibular system is dedicated to balancing. There are three semicircular canals angled at right angles to each other which are responsible for dynamic balance.

How can I keep my ears healthy?

It is completely impossible to repair the ear naturally once hearing is gone. We have to take care of our ears.

  • Don’t use cotton swabs and other devices to clean your ears often. It may damage the ear canal or may push the earwax deeper into the ear. Sometimes may rupture the eardrums also.
  • Avoid or protect yourself from loud music or noise. Because hearing damage builds over time. Use earplugs if you are facing loud noise like working on machinery, etc.
  • Always keep your ears dry. Excess moisture can allow bacteria to develop into the canal. Dry your ears with a clean and smooth towel after bathing or swimming. Many-a-times, we feel water in the ear after a bath, tilt the head down and tug you earlobes gently to coax out the water.
  • You should do periodic check-up of your ear. Even for smaller complication related to the ear, consult your primary care physician and take medications only as directed.

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