The ear is typically a symbol of one of the five human senses: hearing. Did you know that it is also a significant part of how we get our sense of balance? In daily life, we do not usually think about our sense of balance; it is easy enough to walk across a room, sit in a chair, or look in the direction of someone speaking. All of these simple actions use a sense of balance. Here’s how it works.
What Is Balance?
According to vestibular.org, balance is the body’s ability to maintain its center of mass over its base of support. It is the body’s ability to gauge and control a sense of up and down, as well as motion and direction of motion. It allows us to orient ourselves with the earth’s gravity and adjust our bodies accordingly.
How Our Sense of Balance Works in the Ear
The Three Semi-Circular Canals
The inner ear is one of our control centers for balance. In it are three semi-circular canals and two otolith organs. The three semi-circular canals have tiny hairs at the end of each and are filled with fluid, and each canal senses a specific type of movement. One of each responds when the head is:
- Raised or lowered
The hair cells send the appropriate information to the brain through a nerve.
The Two Otolith Organs
The two otolith organs, the utricle and the saccule, also contain fluid and have tiny hair cells. In addition to these elements are tiny crystals on top of the hair cells. The otolith organs detect movement, speed, and direction. If you are moving yourself, these organs will pick it up and send the information to the brain to adjust your body. If you are moving in an elevator, car, or other transport, these organs will also detect it.
The Ear as One Part of the Picture
The inner ears work with the eyes, muscles, and joints to gain adequate information about one’s sense of balance. The result is an automatic sense of position in the world and automatic movements of the body to keep oneself upright.
Are you suffering from a vestibular disorder? Clarity Audiology in Baltimore, MD, can help!
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Need help with your hearing? Clarity Hearing can help. Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions is an independently owned and operated clinic that focuses on quality of care and personalized, friendly service to the surrounding areas of Ellicott City, Catonsville, Columbia. Our Doctors of Audiology are highly trained with advanced degrees and take the time to provide the personalized care and attention that you need and deserve. We provide advanced hearing aid options that are personally calibrated with cutting-edge digital technology to fit your hearing loss, your unique ear anatomy, and your individual listening needs.
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