Your Ear

Introduction

(Introductory Statement, Anatomy and function) Your ear has two functions that are for hearing and balance. You need to take care of your ears and protect them from harm so that they are healthy and can function well Your ears are made up 3 parts

  • Outer ear made up of the pinna and ear canal
  • Middle ear made up of 3 little bones called hammer, anvil and stirrup
  • Inner ear made up of cochlea and the semicircular canals

How to Clean Ear Wax

The cells in your ear canal produce a sticky substance called ear wax, Earwax has three important jobs

  • It protects and moisturizes the skin of ear canal, preventing dry, itchy ears.
  • It contains special chemicals that fight off infections that could hurt the skin inside the ear canal.
  • It acts as a shield between the outside world and the eardrum. When dust, dirt, and other things enter your ear, the earwax traps them so they can’t travel any further.

You might wonder whether the earwax needs to be cleaned out. The ear wax naturally flows out of the ear. All you have to do is clean the wax that flows out using a clean cloth. Keep your finger nails short to avoid from accidentally causing injury to the skin DO NOT dig your ears with match sticks, needle, or anything sharp. You can hurt your ear by poking around in there. Digging your ears can cause injury to the thin skin in your ear canal and infection may occur DO NOT use cotton bud to clean the wax in your ear canal. When you dig your ear with a cotton bud, it can cause the wax to be pushed further into the canal. Your hearing will be reduced if the wax becomes too much and impacted blocking the sound waves from reaching the ear drum. If the ear wax becomes impacted in your ear, you can use olive oil ear drops to soften the wax

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can occur at any age. It doesn’t happen only when you get old How do you know when you have a hearing problem?

  • Unable to understand conversation
  • Unable to hear in noisy environment
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Having to turn up the volume when watching TV or listening to the radio
  • Constantly asking people to repeat themselves
  • Perceived conversations as mumbling
  • Avoiding conversations with family and friends

There are different degrees of hearing loss

  • Mild – when it is difficult to hear in a noisy environment
  • Moderate – when you have difficulty hearing whispers
  • Severe – when you are not able to understand loud speech sounds
  • Profound (very severe) – when you are unable to hear very loud sounds

Hearing loss can happen suddenly, example:

  • Sudden injury to ear by physical injury or sudden very loud noise such as gunshot
  • Acute infection in your ear
  • If your ear suddenly clogs up when water enters your ear and causes wax to expand

Hearing loss can slowly develop due to the following:

  • Chronic ear infection
  • Long term exposure to noise
  • Ototoxic drugs (medication that can hurt your ears)

Hearing Loss Due to Noise

Hearing loss can occur slowly, till you are not aware of it. “A doctor asked a patient if his work place was noisy. The patient who had worked in the same place for many years replied that the workplace was noisy when he first started work but after many years it has become less noisy” You Don’t Get “Used to Noise” Noise does not have to be uncom­fortably loud to damage you ears. You may think your ears are “used to the noise,” but what has happened is that hearing loss has already begun. How quickly one looses their hearing depends on the loudness of the noise and the length of time a person is exposed to the noise. Listening to loud music a lot can cause the same kind of damage, especially if headphones are used. Some famous musicians have suffered hearing loss and developed tinnitus. That’s why now you might notice that some of your favorite musicians wear hearing protection while they’re playing. Deejays at the discos and supermarkets are also exposed to loud music. When you attend a concert where the music is loud or you are near the speakers, you are exposing your ears to loud music that can damage your ears. Noise results in damage to your nerves Loss of hearing due to exposure to noise is permanent. You will not be able to get back the ability to hear. You will need to wear hearing aids

How do you know if a place is noisy?

Safe level of noise is 85dB for 8 hours only When you have to shout so that you can be heard by a person 3 feet from you, the noise level is probably 85 dB (decibel) or more and hearing protectors are recommended.

Two signs that indicate damage to your ears

  • If sounds seem unclear or softer after noise exposure, your hearing is affected by a temporary threshold shift which warns that your ears have been overexposed. If you repeatedly expose your ears without protection, the shift can worsen and become permanent, resulting in untreatable damage to your hearing ability.
  • After a period of high noise exposure, you have tinnitus – a ringing, buzzing, or whistling in your head. This is not ‘cool’. This is a warning that the hair cells of your inner ear have been irritated and over­worked. Tinnitus is especially notice­able in a quiet place, such as when trying to go to sleep at night. If you don’t protect your ears from noise, tinnitus can become a permanent, constant annoyance in your life.

How to Protect Your Hearing

Tips to care for your hearing.

  • Protect your ears by wearing ear protection either ear muff or ear plugs when you’re using loud machinery e.g. if you are in vocational training.
  • Turn down the volume of your iPod/MP3, especially when you’re wearing earphones/headphones or in the car.
  • Give your ears a rest once in a while if you like wearing earphones/headphones.
  • If you attend a concert, consider wearing earplugs to protect your ears.
  • When using hand phones put it on speaker mode.
Last Reviewed : 31 January 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Aminah Bee bt. Mohd. Kassim
Accreditor : Dr. Nik Rubiah bte. Nik Abdul Rashid