The ear is one of the most amazing structures in the body and one we take for granted until it becomes blocked and interferes with the most basic human attribute – the ability to communicate.
Here, we explain all about the ear, the vital parts, how each part works, and of course ear wax.
How You Hear
The ear funnels sound waves to the inner ear (the cochlear) where those sound waves are converted to nerve impulses and sent to the brain where we ‘hear’ them. Unlike animals the part of the ear on the side of our head (the pinna) plays only a small part in detecting and directing sound into the ear canal.
The ear canal is a narrow tube about 2.5 cm long curved in two directions. Sound is directed along the ear canal to the ear drum, a delicate membrane which vibrates when the sound waves hit it.
The ear drum is connected to the first of a chain of three bones which are suspended in an air-filled chamber called the middle ear. The inner most bone, the stapes, the smallest bone in the body, attaches to a hole in the bony wall of the inner ear. The inner ear is a bony structure containing a hollow coiled tube about 3cm long, like a snail shell. The tube is filled with fluid and divided into two halves by a membrane.
The vibrating hearing bones send sound waves into this fluid which makes the membrane bend at different places depending on the frequencies of the sounds coming in. Nerve endings run all the way along the membrane like a piano keyboard and detect all the different frequencies of a particular sound and sends that information up to the brain where we ‘hear’ them.
How Wax Is Produced
The ear canal produces wax as part of the ear’s protective mechanism. Too much wax will block the sound waves from getting to the ear drum causing deafness and a very unpleasant feeling of blockage. In order to relieve these symptoms and protect this incredible structure the safest and most effective way to have wax blockage removed is with Microsuction using a proper microscope and a suction machine.
At Just Ears we always use a microscope because this gives magnification, depth perception and excellent illumination which are all essential for safe and complete removal of wax.
If you are struggling with built up ear wax, you can book your appointment online or call 03455 27 27 27 to find out more.
Written by Mr Mike Pringle
Consultant ENT Surgeon