A  A  A   Print
Anatomy and Physiology of the EarAnatomía y la Fisiología del Oído

Anatomy and Physiology of the Ear

What is the ear?

Anatomy of the ear
Click Image to Enlarge

The ear is the organ of hearing. The parts of the ear include:

  • External or outer ear, consisting of:

    • Pinna or auricle. This is the outside part of the ear.

    • External auditory canal or tube. This is the tube that connects the outer ear to the inside or middle ear.

  • Tympanic membrane (also called the eardrum). The tympanic membrane divides the external ear from the middle ear.

  • Middle ear (tympanic cavity), consisting of:

    • Ossicles. Three small bones that are connected and transmit the sound waves to the inner ear. The bones are called:

      • Malleus

      • Incus

      • Stapes

    • Eustachian tube. A canal that links the middle ear with the throat area. The eustachian tube helps to equalize the pressure between the outer ear and the middle ear. Having the same pressure allows for the proper transfer of sound waves. The eustachian tube is lined with mucous, just like the inside of the nose and throat.

  • Inner ear, consisting of:

    • Cochlea (contains the nerves for hearing)

    • Vestibule (contains receptors for balance)

    • Semicircular canals (contain receptors for balance)

How do we hear?

Hearing starts with the outer ear. When a sound is made outside the outer ear, the sound waves, or vibrations, travel down the external auditory canal and strike the eardrum (tympanic membrane). The eardrum vibrates. The vibrations are then passed to three tiny bones in the middle ear called the ossicles. The ossicles amplify the sound and send the sound waves to the inner ear and into the fluid-filled hearing organ (cochlea).

Once the sound waves reach the inner ear, they are converted into electrical impulses, which the auditory nerve sends to the brain. The brain then translates these electrical impulses as sound.

 

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.