Ears & Hearing

The sweetness of music, the intensity of a child’s cry, and the brewing of the outside wind; all of these require hearing. Life is just a little more precious when you can hear the beauty of things, as well as see them. However, the human ears are more than just organs for perceiving sound or for hearing. They also serve very important roles in maintaining the balance and equilibrium of the body. There are instances, however, when the ears also experience disorders, probably due to external factors. The ears are sensitive organs, and they are susceptible to the entry of foreign bodies because it is an open cavity in the body. There are many types of ear disorders, some with mild and easily remedied symptoms, while there are more serious types that can possibly lead to deafness or loss of hearing if not properly addressed. It’s important to have your ears checked out regularly, especially as you progress towards your golden years.

Technology today is very advanced, and can quickly pick up any signs of trouble in your ears. Babies are given hearing tests as soon as they’re born, and action is taken if there are signs of hearing deficiencies.

The ears themselves are wonderful mechanisms. The faculty for hearing and balance all stems from the ear. Once you know how the ear functions, you understand how some people cannot hear very well, or are deaf, or suffer from diseases that affect hearing or balance. There are basically three general parts of the ear: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The earlobes are soft cartilages that are located outside the head; hence they constitute the outer ear. Earlobes are specially-shaped to optimally gather sound and direct it towards the middle ear.
The middle ear is comprised of the ear canal and the tympanic membrane, or the eardrum. The ear canal contains tiny hairs as well as secretes ear wax or cerumin to help filter bacteria and dirt. The tympanic membrane, which separates the outer ear from the middle ear, vibrates as sound waves are received. The vibration is then sent to three small bones, called the ossicles, which are located right after the eardrum, in the inner ear. These bones transport the sound waves to the cochlear nerve located in the inner ear. Within the inner ear is the auditory nerve, which sends the sound signal to the brain for processing. When the sound waves enter the inner ear, they are then translated into electrical impulses, which the brain then receives, and is interpreted as sound. With such a delicate blueprint, the ear unfortunately is susceptible to problems occasionally, especially for the very young, and the older crowd.

An ear infection, or also referred to as otitis media, happens when a pathogen or microbe enters the middle ear. According to sources, babies and young children are usually afflicted with this condition. Some of the symptoms to look for are ear drainage, loss of balance, and problems with hearing. This is usually not a long-term condition, and will subside on its own. Sometimes, antibiotics are prescribed.

Otitis externa is an infection of the outer ear and the ear canal, and can sometimes be called as swimmer’s ear. The symptoms include swelling of the ear, and pain with itchiness when the earlobe is pulled. To remedy the problem, the ear should be kept dry, and a warm compress applied to the ear can alleviate the pain. Another recommendation is to put a few drops of a solution made of half a teaspoon of alcohol and half a teaspoon of white vinegar into the ear before and after swimming.

Taking care of your ears:

The ear protects itself by producing wax. This wax acts as a lubricant for the ear, and also aids in keeping the ear clean from dirt, and prevention of bacteria forming. Sometimes there is a build up of earwax that disrupts one’s hearing abilities. While doctors do not recommend it, a person will usually use a cotton-tipped applicator to try and clear out the wax. But caution must be taken, as there is a risk of pushing the wax in even further, and also of tearing the eardrum itself. A simple way to help eliminate wax build up is applying a few drops of baby oil or Olive oil into your ears, wait a few minutes while the oil sinks in, and then lie on the side while the excess oil leaks out. It’s a natural way to do it, and certainly doesn’t hurt your ears in any way. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, if your wax buildup is bothering you more than usual and your hearing is completely blocked, then your general physician can extract them by using a powerful water syringe, or a cerumen spoon. These are considered more invasive, and are usually used as a last resort.

Hearing aids and cochlear implants are available for children and adults who suffer from a range of deafness, from slight loss of hearing due to loud noise to being born deaf. Behind the ear hearing aids and in the ear/canal hearing aids are the options available. Most children end up with the behind the ear hearing aids because of its durability; as we all know, children are boisterous and love to play. However, they may have to withstand some ridicule from insensitive peers, as these hearing aids are plainly visible.

With all of the loud noises from radio, concerts, environmental conditions like airplanes, our ears take a lot of heat and will sometimes break under the stress. As mentioned before, the eardrum is a vibrating sheet that helps transmit sound to the inner air and the brain. However, there are instances when a sudden loud noise, above the threshold level of the ear, causes the eardrum to rupture. This is followed by a sharp pain and bleeding and discharge from the ears. A doctor should be seen immediately after this has happened.

Always remember take some time out to be good to your ears, and turn down the volume. You’ll save yourself a headache and your hearing.

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