Besides listening to the television, you use your ears for many other activities. As Thanksgiving is approaching, let’s dig into why we should be thankful for our hearing and ears!
The ear is classified as an organ of hearing and balance. It is made up of the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear.
The outer ear consists of the pinna, where all ear piercings go, and the auditory canal.
The tympanic membrane, also known as the eardrum, separates the outer ear from the
The middle ear consists of the three middle ear bones: malleus, incus, and stapes. These
bones help move the sounds waves to the inner ear.
The inner ear consists of the cochlea, vestibule, and semicircular canals. These
structures are important for hearing as well as balance.
Now that we know how the ear is structured. Let’s talk about how it helps us with more than listening to music. The ear and its structures help us by producing earwax and making us cough.
Although it may look gross, earwax is actually a sign or a normal and healthy ear. Another name for earwax is cerumen. Earwax
- Is a natural moisturizer, preventing the skin inside the ear from becoming too dry
- Traps dirt and dust before they can reach deep into the canal
- Absorbs dead skin cells and debris
- Prevents bacteria and other infectious organisms from reaching the inner ear
Of course, excessive production of earwax can cause issues like a false hearing loss or clog ports of a hearing. In these cases, it would be best to contact your primary care provider (PCP), audiologist, or hearing care profession to professionally removal the earwax. What you do not want to do is use Q-tips of ear candles to remove the earwax. These methods can push the earwax further in the ear causing damage and discomfort. The ear is self-cleaning, normal amount of earwax with automatically find its way out!
Our ears also help us cough. Arnold’s ear cough reflex was discovered in 1832 by Friedrich Arnold. This reflex triggers the vagus nerve which “arises in the brain stem and provides a nerve supply to the external ear canal, larynx, heart, stomach and intestine” (newscientist.com). Typically, this reflex occurs when something in being pushed in the ear. This might happen when someone uses Q-tips or is getting their ears looked in with an otoscope. Arnold’s ear cough reflex also helps us keep bugs out of our ears. If a bug is entering our ear, it will stimulate the reflex causing us to cough and the bug to fly out.
Your ears are very important to your daily life. It is important to keep them healthy! Let’s remember to be thankful for our ears this holiday season. If you or a loved one are having ear or hearing difficulty, please contact your local audiologist or hearing care professional today!