Human Ear Diagram

The ear is a complicated organ. On the human ear diagram below, I tried to simplify it, and still keep enough information to show the big picture.

I explained some of the terms in the diagram just below it. It's taken from our hearing aids glossary, where you can find lots of other terms and explanations.



human ear diagram


Outer ear

Contains the pinna and the hearing canal, all the way to the joint limit with the middle ear - the eardrum. The shape of the pinna got high importance in gathering the sounds from the surrounding and in focusing on its location.  The inch long hearing canal is bent to prevent foreign bodies to enter the ear. Ear wax is produced in the ear canal in order to protect it.


Middle ear

The space between the ear drum and the inner ear. It includes three small bones named hearing bones or ossicles. The bones conduct the voice wave from the ear drum to the fluids in the inner ear.


Inner ear

The inner part of the ear. It includes the Cochlea (the snail-like hearing organ) and the organs of balance. The inner ear is connected to the brain with nerve fibers.


Eustachian tube

Connects the nasal cavity and pharynx (part of the throat behind the mouth) to the middle ear, keeping the ear ventilated and regulates the air pressure in it. The tube is open when you swallow and during extreme pressure changes (riding uphill or downhill, take off and landing).  If the nasal cavity is jammed (mocus, enlarged adenoid, swollen tonsils), the tube is blocked and pressure regulating is not at its best. This can cause some hearing loss, first due to vacuum in the ear and then due to fluids accumulating behind the ear drum. It’s one of the most widespread reasons to hearing loss among infants, toddlers and kids.



Ear drum

A delicate membrane that forms the limit between the outer ear and the middle ear. Sounds enter the ear canal, vibrating the ear drum and it transmits the energy to the hearing bones in the middle ear (ossicles) that are connected to it. There are hearing loss types that are caused by ear drum perforation (having a hole in the eardrum). You can sometimes fix it by a surgery called tympanoplastic surgery where you fix the tiny hole in a way somewhat similar to fixing a puncture in a car wheel.


Cochlea

A spiral organ, part of the inner ear, full with fluid. The hearing bones in the middle ear vibrate it mechanically and move the fluid. Hair cells in the Cochlea translate it to electric signals that are transmitted to the hearing nerve.

Many sensorineural hearing loss cases are caused by hair cell malfunction.




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