Nature is full of fascinating designs, not the least of which is the human ear. Although it is one of the smallest parts of the body with even smaller components within it, it plays multiple roles that affect our lives to an incredible extent.
How the Ear Works
The ear consists of outer, middle, and inner parts, connecting to the brain and the throat. As sound waves enter the outer ear, they travel through to the eardrum. Movement from the eardrum prompts the three tiny bones in the middle ear, called ossicles, to vibrate and amplify the sound into the inner ear. The inner ear, which contains fluid, contains tiny, curved hairs that move as the fluid moves. This movement translates into electrical signals that travel to the brain.
The Smallest Bones
Although the ear contains the smallest bones in the body, their function, as described above, is profound. All three ossicles can fit on top of a penny, but when the eardrum sends sound their way, they amplify the waves by 22 times. If someone hears an overly loud noise, the ossicles could potentially break. Thankfully, surgeons have discovered a way to mend the issue through transplants.
Even tinier than ossicles are the little hairs that live in the cochlea, the inner ear. Within this snailshell-shaped organ are 20,000 such fibers. A particularly loud sound can damage these at once or over time, causing some level of hearing loss. Considering the potential consequences of hearing loss, these hairs, though nearly microscopic, achieve a mighty purpose.
Sense of Balance
Connected to the ear are two parts that control our sense of balance, the vestibular complex and the Eustachian tube. The vestibular complex, located above the cochlea, looks like two loops. Within these are tiny crystals that send messages about balance to the brain. The Eustachian tube, only 4 centimeters long, connects the middle ear to the throat and controls air pressure. When our ears “pop,” that means the air pressure changed too quickly for the Eustachian tubes to adjust.
Trust the Experts at Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions
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 personally calibrated with cutting-edge digital technology to fit your hearing loss, your unique ear anatomy, and your individual listening needs.
Come in for a walk-in appointment on Tuesdays & Fridays from 10:00 am to 11:30 am or contact us to schedule an appointment by calling 410-698-6594 or visiting our contact page. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn for more blog posts, news, and updates!