Ear & Hearing

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Ear & Hearing
Ear & Hearing

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Ear & hearing

Due to a complex structure and a similar interaction, the ears serve the hearing and the inner ear also serve the balance. With the help of the ears, noises, voices, sounds etc. can be “picked up” in the form of sound waves and “passed on” to the brain and processed. Diseases that affect the ear or certain areas of the ear can not only affect hearing but also affect balance.

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The ear essentially consists of three parts:

  • external ear (auricle, external auditory canal),
  • Middle ear (tympanic cavity, ossicles, ear trumpet, etc.) and
  • Inner ear (labyrinth with snail, semicircular canals, etc.).

Graphic ear and hearing © bilderzwerg

The middle ear is separated from the external ear canal by the eardrum. The air-filled space of the middle ear is connected to the pharynx via the ear trumpet. This connection is necessary for pressure equalization (ventilation).

If it doesn't work (e.g. in the case of infections of the upper airways), we notice this painfully - e.g. when flying. If an infection of the nasopharynx spreads through the ear trumpet to the middle ear, this can be a reason for the development of an acute otitis media.

Listen

Sound waves reach the eardrum through the auricle and ear canal. They are then transferred to the ossicles in the middle ear (hammer, anvil, stapes) and via the oval window to the fluid in the inner ear. With the help of thousands of auditory cells (hair cells) in the cochlea of ​​the inner ear, the sound waves are converted into electrical impulses and transmitted to the brain via nerves (auditory nerves) and processed.

If the hair cells are damaged (e.g. by exposure to sound), this can lead to a form of hearing loss. However, hearing loss can also have other reasons, such as calcification or a tear in the eardrum. Problems with hearing are sometimes also due to less serious causes - for example the clogging of an ear canal with ear wax. Sound waves are not only transmitted through the ear, but sound conduction also takes place through the skull bone. However, this is perceived to a lesser extent.

More information about

  • Hearing loss
  • Childhood hearing loss
  • Hearing impairment / deafness
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Tinnitus

balance

The inner ear is the seat of the organ of equilibrium, which contributes significantly to spatial perception, noticing acceleration and maintaining / changing one's balance (change of position). The organ of equilibrium consists of different structures. Changing the position of the head moves fluids in the inner ear. As a result, special sensory cells in the inner ear react, and information is passed on to the brain via the equilibrium nerve via the equilibrium nerve (including to the cerebellum) and connections with the ocular muscle nerves and the spinal cord are "created". In addition, there are many different other factors that are involved in maintaining balance - e.g. eyes, muscles, hearing.Disturbances of the sense of balance can have various causes and lead to nystagmus through various damage. Seizures of dizziness, ringing in the ears and hearing loss also characterize the so-called Menière's disease.

More information about

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
  • Dizziness in old age

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