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Your Ears Are Awesome!

Most of us take our hearing for granted, and don’t stop to consider just how amazing our ears are. The tiny ear works hard everyday to help us connect with our friends, family and environment, and brings us the sounds that we love. Your favorite song, lines in a movie, friend’s voice, or the rustle of leaves in the trees are all made possible by the proper function of the ear. Read on to find out some fun facts about your ears, and how to protect them and enjoy good hearing throughout your life.

Smallest Bones in the Body

The ears contain the three smallest bones in the body: the incus, the malleus, and the stapes (also known as the anvil, the hammer, and the stirrup). The inner ear is no larger than a pencil eraser, and these tiny bones work together to transmit sound to the brain. Breaking one of these bones, or having abnormal bone growth, can result in conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss can be due to trauma or genetic conditions such as otosclerosis. While the inside of the ear is tiny, it is integral to hearing, and you should get any injuries checked out to be sure you haven’t damaged these small bones.

The Temporal Bone

What is the hardest bone in the human body? Surprisingly, it is the petrous part of the temporal bone, located behind deep behind your ear. This stone-like part of the bone covers the inner ear and protects it from injury. This is the part of the skull that can resist impact, and is the part frequently found in archaeology. The temporal bone is like armor for the inner ear and ensures that your hearing will be protected.

Hair Cells

Your ears have hair, and those tiny hair cells are what actually collect sound waves and vibrate. The small changes within the hair cells create electrical signals which are what get passed on to the brain and interpreted. Your ears have more than 20,000 hair cells! When these hair cells are damaged, they do not grow back.

Balance

Have you ever wondered how you are able to navigate the world upright without falling over? Your ears play a big part in maintaining your body’s equilibrium, and are constantly sending messages to your brain to adjust and keep balanced. The fluid in the inner ear moves with the head and stimulates nerve endings sending messages to the brain, and messages from both ears are sent simultaneously. If one ear is not functioning, it can cause those messages to be distorted, and you can feel off-balance or dizzy.

The Pinna

Have you ever seen an old-fashioned ear horn? The exaggerated shape does exactly what the natural ear does: acts as a funnel to direct sound deeper into the ear. The helical shaped outer ear is known as the pinna, and without it it would be harder to hear and understand sounds. The pinna does an amazing job of getting the sound into the inner ear where it can be transmitted to the brain.

Earwax

While earwax is sometimes seen as a nuisance, as long as there is not too much of it, it is a natural protection for the ear. In general, the ear makes just the right amount of earwax, and there is no need to manually remove earwax. Earwax protects the eardrum and ear canal by creating a waterproof lining that blocks out moisture and germs. It also can trap dirt and dust and keep them from going deeper into the ear canal and causing damage. Earwax naturally makes its way out of the ear and keeps the ears continually protected and clean.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

While your ears contain some of the smallest and hardest bones in the body, they are also very susceptible to noise. The hair cells in the inner ear become damaged with continual exposure to high decibel levels, and once they are damaged they do not grow back. Loud music, fireworks, gunshots, lawnmowers, and job-related noises can all cause noise induced hearing loss. While the ears are resilient, you should guard against prolonged noise exposure and wear hearing protection if you know you will be exposed to loud noises.

Ears Never Sleep

Did you know that when you are sleeping your ears are still hearing? While you are sleeping your brain ignores the incoming sounds, but your ears never rest! While a particularly loud noise could jar you out of a deep sleep, your brain will block out smaller noises.

Ears are truly extraordinary, the complex design of the ear allows for hearing, balance, and connection with the world. When your hearing is damaged it can affect your whole life, and lead to depression, isolation, and inability to socialize like you once did. Protect and value your ears and your hearing and make sure to take all the precautions you can to ensure that your hearing is as good as it can be.  But if you are experiencing any hearing impairment, you should get it checked out right away. Hearing loss is often not reversible, but can be improved with the use of hearing aids. Hearing loss often goes undetected, which is why you should regularly get your hearing checked—this goes for both children and adults! Factory Direct Hearing has the best brands of hearing aids that you can buy online and have delivered directly to your door—find out more today!