Our ears are responsible for both our hearing and balance, and so to have either aspect not working properly can greatly affect your daily life. Despite the fact that our ears are so important, we often neglect to care for them properly so shop below to discover effective products that will keep you hearing well and properly balanced.
How do my ears work?
The ears are made up on three different components; the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The outer ear is comprised of the ear lobe (the pinna) and the external canal, both of which funnel sound waves towards the inner ear. The outer ear is also responsible for protecting the eardrum and other inner parts, which it does by producing ear wax.
The middle ear is a space filled with air, that is found in the temporal bone of the skull. This part is responsible for converting sound waves into mechanical vibrations, that will then be understood by the inner ear. Once you reach the inner ear, the function expands from just hearing, to both hearing and balance. The inner warren of tubes within this part of the skull, contain fluid and connect to the innermost parts. The cochlea is all about hearing, the semicircular canals are all about balance and the vestibule connects the two.
The cochlea works by sending electrical impulses (converted from sound waves to mechanical vibrations, to electrical impulses by the other parts of the ear) to the brain, so that we can understand the world around us. Meanwhile, information is sent from the inner ear to the brain and spinal cord, to tell the body where it is in relation to gravity and the earth, achieving a sense of balance.
What are the most common ear complaints?
There are many things that can affect the function of our ears and a lot of them are extremely common. Ear wax, as we know, is produced to protect the eardrum from harm, but you can experience a build-up that stops you from hearing properly and makes you feel blocked.
Ear infections are common too and usually affect the middle part of the ear, however you can also contract infections of the outer ear, known as “swimmer’s ear” (because excessive exposure to water and getting water trapped in your ear increases your risk).
You may also experience tinnitus (a ringing in the ears) as a symptom of damage, trauma, or muscle spasms in any part of the ear from the lobe to the inner tubes. Cauliflower ear is another common complaint, largely in the field of wrestling, martial arts and boxing, which is when the outer ear is damaged by blunt trauma. The injury can force the ear to shrivel and fold in on itself as it heals, giving it the cauliflower appearance that earns the complaint its name.
How do I care for my ears?
Compared to teeth that require brushing and flossing, or nails that need clipping and filing, your ears really don’t ask for much TLC. However, it’s important that you don’t entirely neglect them and even more important that you aren’t doing anything that could harm them.
In general, you will naturally clean your outer ears as you shower, and will wash away any excess ear wax that works its way out of the ear canal. Even though it may seem unpleasant, earwax actually serves an important purpose and allows the ear to self-clean. Because of this, it’s important you don’t overclean or use harsh treatments to get rid of it. This includes syringing your ears (because it can get rid of too much wax and leave you open to infection) or inserting any sharp objects like fingernails, hair grips and even cotton buds (all of which risk damaging your eardrum and could actually work any ear wax further into your ear canal).
If you feel that your ears are blocked with ear wax, then opt for gentle and non-intrusive options such as drops, which are available from UK Meds. You will also find protective measures for swimming (to protect from swimmer’s ear).
As well as considering the health of the internal parts of your ear, you should also take good care of your ear lobes. This includes taking proper care of any piercings (especially new ones) and using sun protection when necessary, to prevent sun damage.
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