Understanding the Ear

The ear consists of three sections:

  • The outer ear
  • The middle ear
  • The inner ear

The outer ear consists of the pinna, ear canal and the eardrum (tympanic membrane). The shape of the pinna helps to channel sound into the ear canal, the sound then travels down the ear canal. Once the sound reaches the tympanic membrane it causes it to vibrate.

The middle ear consists of the middle ear space and ossicles. The middle ear space is usually air filled. The ossicles are a tiny chain of three bones, the malleus, incus and stapes. When the eardrum vibrates this causes the ossicles to vibrate which transfers the sound to the inner ear. The middle ear is connected to the back of the nose by the Eustachian tube. This tube allows air to enter the middle ear space.

The inner ear consists of the cochlear and vestibular system. The cochlear is shaped like a snail and is lined with thousands of tiny hair cells. When the sound reaches these hair cells they convert the sound from mechanical to electrical energy. The vestibular system makes up part of your balance system.

The auditory nerve sends the electrical energy from the hair cells up to the brain where it can be processed.

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