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The ears are paired sensory organs comprising the auditory system , involved in the detection of sound, and the vestibular system , involved with maintaining body balance/ equilibrium.
The ear divides anatomically and functionally into three regions: the external ear , the middle ear , and the inner ear . All three regions are involved in hearing. Only the inner ear functions in the vestibular system.
Your ears are extraordinary organs. They pick up all the sounds around you and then translate this information into a form your brain can understand. One of the most remarkable things about this process is that it is completely mechanical. Your sense of smell, taste and vision all involve chemical reactions, but your hearing system is based solely on physical movement.
ANATOMY OF THE EAR (Outer Ear)
The outer ear is the external portion of the ear , which consists of the pinna, concha, and auditory meatus. It gathers sound energy and focuses it on the eardrum ( tympanic membrane).
The visible part is called the pinna and functions to collect and focus sound waves.
The outer ear has no bones. It is the external portion of the ear, which consists of the pinna , concha , and auditory meatus . It gathers sound energy and focuses it on the eardrum (tympanic membrane).
The middle ear , separated from the external ear by the eardrum, is an air-filled cavity ( tympanic cavity ) carved out of the temporal bone. It connects to the throat/nasopharynx via the Eustachian tube. This ear-throat connection makes the ear susceptible to infection ( otitis media ). The eustachian tube functions to equalize air pressure on both sides of the eardrum. Normally the walls of the tube are collapsed. Swallowing and chewing actions open the tube to allow air in or out, as needed for equalization. Equalizing air pressure ensures that the eardrum vibrates maximally when struck by sound waves.
This topic covers infections of the middle ear, commonly called ear infections . For information on outer ear infections, see the topic Ear Canal Problems (Swimmer's Ear) . For information on inner ear infections, see the topic Labyrinthitis .
What is a middle ear infection?
The middle ear is the small part of your ear just inside your eardrum. It can get infected when germs from the nose and throat are trapped there
What causes a middle ear infection?
A small tube connects your ear to your throat. A cold can cause this tube to swell. When the tube swells enough to become blocked, it can trap fluid inside your ear. This makes it a perfect place for germs to grow and cause an infection.
Ear infections happen mostly to young children because their tubes are smaller and get blocked more easily.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom is an earache. It can be mild, or it can hurt a lot. Babies and young children may be fussy. They may pull at their ears and cry. They may have trouble sleeping. They may also have a fever.
You may see thick, yellow fluid coming from their ears. This happens when the infection has caused the eardrum to burst and the fluid flows out. This is not serious and usually makes the pain go away. The eardrum usually heals on its own. Can ear infections be prevented?
There are many ways to help prevent ear infections.
Do not smoke. Ear infections happen more often to children who are around cigarette smoke. Even the fumes from tobacco smoke on your hair and clothes can affect them.
Handwashing and having your child immunized can help, too.
Also, make sure your child does not go to sleep while sucking on a bottle. And try to limit the use of group child care.