Care To Listen: Proper Ear Cleaning

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This article is about the ears. It discusses about the different parts of the ear and their functions. The ears not only help us with hearing, it also gives us a sense of balance and body position. A lot of factors may give people ear infection, like: dirty water getting inside the ear, having small objects stuck in the ear canal, or even too much manipulation of the ears.

infection, medical complications

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The Ears
The ear is one of the body’s many sensory organs. Its main purpose is to detect sounds. But aside from hearing, it plays a big role in a person’s sense of balance and body position. The ear, along with the brain, makes up the auditory system.

The ear is made up of the following:
l The outer ear. It is composed of:
* Pinna. This is the cartilagenous external ear outside the ear canal. It reflects and attenuates sound waves into the ear canal. The change it makes on the sound provides more information in helping the brain locate the source of the sound.
* Auditory canal. This is the tube connecting the pinna to the middle ear.
l The middle ear.
* Eardrum. This is a thin membrane that seperates the external and the middle ear. It transmits sound from the air to the ossicles within the middle ear.
* Ossicles. These are the three smallest bones in the body. They are the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus) and stirrups (stapes). They transmit the sounds towards the fluid-filled cochlea. They convert lower-pressure eardrum sound vibrations into higher pressure sound vibrations at the elliptical window.
l The inner ear.
* Cochlea. This portion of the ear is filled with watery fluid that moves in response to vibrations from the middle ear. The fluid reacts to the movement, causing thousands of “hair cells” to start moving. It then converts the movement into electrical signals communicated through neurotransmitters to different nerve cells.
* Vestibules. This is the central part of the inner ear. It houses sensitive accoustic nerves that goes from the semi-circular canal to the cochlea.
* Semi-circular canals. It is composed of three, interconnected, half-circular tubes. They detect hea movement on a vertical, rostral-caudal, and sagittal planes.

Medical Complications
Improper care of the ears may cause one to develop ear infections and medical complications. The most common of ear infections is otitis. Otitis is a generic term used for inflammation or infection of the ear. It is subdivide into three different classes:
1. Otitis Externa. This infection involves the pinna and the auditory canal. Sufferers feel pain when their ears are touched or pulled. This condition is also called “swimmer’s ear”.
2. Otitis Media. This affects the middle ear. In this condition, the ear is infected or clogged with fluid at the back of the ear drum, in the normally air-filled tympani cavity.
3. Otitis Interna. This condition is also called Labyrinthitis. It affects the inner ear that houses the major sensory organs for balance and hearing. Vertigo is often a symptom for this condition.

Ear infections may be caused by dirty water, having things stuck in the ear canal, too much ear manipulation, diseases (colds), and certain lifestyle factors (smoking).

Proper Ear Care
Here are useful tips for taking better care of your ears to prevent infections:
l Take extra care in cleaning your ears. Use a washcloth or tissue to wipe the pinna dry. Do not use sharp, pointed objects to clear the middle and inner ears, these objects may injure the ear canal.
l Protect yourself from illnesses. Have upper respiratory tract infections treated as these may affect your hearing. If you notice a weird discharge from your ears, consult a physician immediately.
l Avoid exposing yourself to noise. Wear ear protection when you’re required to perform a task that exposes you to excessively loud noises. Avoid playing music at a very high volume. Wear ear plugs when attending loud concerts, especially if you’re seated near the stage speakers.
l Protect yourself from physical trauma. Wear a helmet when engaging in any activities that may injure the head. Wear filtered ear plugs when going on air travel, this helps equalize the pressure inside and outside the ears.
l Attend regular ear check ups with your trusted ear physician.

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