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Anatomy of the ear and why you should not use cotton ear buds

The structure of the ear can be divided into three parts: external, inner and middle. The external ear is constructed of the pinna, external auditory meatus (ear canal) and the tympanic membrane (ear drum). The outer third of the external auditory meatus is constructed with cartilage and the remainder is bony. The ear has a complex cleaning

mechanism, where skin from the deep portion of the meatus is moved to the

outer portion of the meatus in order to desquamate.

This is one of the reasons why patients are advised not to use cotton buds, as this mechanism can be disturbed through the frequent use of cotton buds.

The middle ear is an air-filled space that contains three ossicles: malleus, incus and stapes. The three bones act to transfer sound energy from the tympanic membrane to the cochlea, a fluid-filled structure contained in the inner ear. The Eustachian tube is located in the middle ear and connects the middle ear with the nasopharynx, which controls the pressure within the middle ear.


The inner is responsible for balance and hearing. The inner ear comprises of

a bony and membranous labyrinth which consists of the cochlea and the

semicircular canals. The cochlea is responsible for hearing and the

semicircular canal is termed the vestibular system and is responsible for

balance.

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