What’s the structure of the ear?

The ear is made up of so many different little sections!

The ear is made up of three different sections, all with tiny little parts in! There’s the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear!

They all work together to help you hear and understand sounds.

The outer ear collects sounds – a bit like a funnel – and points them into the hole! That hole is called the ear canal…

The ear canal is covered in earwax! Although it’s icky and gloopy, it has an important job. It stops stuff from getting stuck in your ear and helps fight off germs that could make you sick…

Sound races down the ear canal and hits against your ear drum!

The eardrum is a thin piece of skin that’s stretched tight between the outer ear and the middle ear.

Another term for the eardrum is the tympanic membrane. That comes from the same word as tympani – a big kettle drum used in orchestras!

Vibrations from the eardrum are transmitted through to tiny bones called ossicles that help deliver sound into the inner ear…

These clever ossicles have some funny names – the first ossicle is called the malleus, then there’s the incus, and the last is the stapes.

They are the smallest bones in the body! The word stapes means ‘stirrup’ – and indeed, it even looks like a tiny stirrup, see!

Cochlea is a funny word, isn’t it? That’s a spiral shaped tube that’s full of liquid that moves around like a wave.

Tiny hairs along the walls of the cochlea move as sound passes through it. Each hair sends messages to the brain, creating the sensation of sound!

The inner ear also helps control balance. The hairs can sense whether the liquid is moving this way, that way, or moving around and around. Messages are then sent to the brain, which helps us to stay balanced!

Hallux’s Hearing Helpdesk is now open and is answering all of your hearing questions!

Professor Hallux: The Human Body Podcast for Kids

Learn about the human body in this podcast - from brains and bones to ears and eyes!


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Hallux’s Hearing Helpdesk, with support from Phonak


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