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Facts About the Human Ears

Posted by Joanna Culley on

Ears are two major organs inside the body and, specifically, within the auditory system. They may not seem as big or as important as others, but their functions are crucial for us to develop our daily activities regularly and perceive certain stimuli around us. These organs grant us two unique features and abilities, which are hearing and balance, through a special type of structure called hair cells.

The human ear is divided into three sections known as the outer, middle and inner ear. The first section, known as pinna or auricle, is the only easily visible part. It has the ear canal lined with hairs and glands that produce wax. The second section is made up of three small bones that carry sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. These bones are called malleus, incus, and stapes. The last section includes the actual hearing organ, called the cochlea, which is a very complex system of membranous cells; the inner ear, also known as the labyrinth, is made by two parts: one bony, one membranous. 

It might look like a simple, straightforward structure, but there is actually a lot more to it, and it involves the inner part of the cochlea. Inside it, there is the organ of Corti, which has hair cells, the ones that perceive the sound and send the information through the cochlear nerve. A major part of this entire process is the shape of the organ, which is snail-like, so the sound waves can travel properly. 

Hearing and balance

These are the main functions granted by the ears. The hearing is the most known and studied feature of this system, but the balance has almost the same importance; it is achieved through the combination of visual input, sensory information coming from the inner ear and from the rest of the body, especially from the area around the joints. This data is processed by the cerebellum, and then, the cerebral cortex handles the changes in speed and the direction of the head.

Your ears are cleaner than what you think

Earwax is very often related to poor hygiene and most people remove it even when it is hardly noticeable. However, earwax actually keeps your ears clean! It is a mixture of oil, dead skin cells and sweat that works as a barrier between your ear canal and the exterior, keeping dirt, debris, and other particles from hurting the inside of your ears. Its sticky texture works as a filter for any damaging particle that could negatively affect your hearing organs.

Your ears can tell many facts about yourself

Even though the size may vary throughout our lives, men are estimated to have larger ears than women. Commonly, ears tend to be about 2.5 inches (or 6.3 centimeters) long, and the earlobe size being around 0.74 inches (or 1.88 centimeters) long. As we age, ears tend to grow due to how collagen in our bodies reduce, reaching a growth rate of 0.51 millimeters per year. That means that you can tell a person’s age from the circumference of their ears; the equation would be Subject's age = 1.96 x (Ear circumference in mm – 88.1).

Sounds affect our hearing in amazing ways

Have you ever held a seashell against your ear? People have probably told you can listen to the sound of the waves, but what you are really hearing is the blood surging and flowing from your ear veins. However, if you want to enjoy excellent hearing your entire life, proper care is very important and also avoiding excessively loud sounds. 

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