The Anatomy of The Ear

What are the parts of your ear? How does your ear help you hear? As firm believers in the importance of patient education, we’re breaking it down for you. Learn more about this critical organ of hearing, including its role in an everyday function (balance) that might surprise you.

A diagram of the anatomy of the human ear


Parts of the Ear

External or outer ear, which comprises the:

  • Pinna or auricle, the outside part of the ear.
  • External auditory canal, which connects the outer ear to the inside or middle ear.
  • Tympanic membrane or eardrum, which divides the external ear from the middle ear.


Middle ear or tympanic cavity, which includes:

  • Ossicles — three small, connected bones known as the malleus, incus, and stapes, which transmit sound waves to the inner ear.
  • The Eustachian tube, a canal that links the middle ear with the throat area. The Eustachian tube helps equalize pressure between the middle ear and the air around you. Equal pressure is necessary for comfort and the health of the middle ear space. The Eustachian tube is lined with a mucous membrane, just like the inside of the nose and throat.


Inner ear, including:

  • The cochlea, which contains the receptors for hearing.
  • The vestibule, which contains the receptors for balance.
  • Semicircular canals, which contain the receptors for balance.


How Ears Help You Hear

The outer ear is where hearing starts. When a sound is produced, the sound waves or vibrations travel down the external auditory canal and strike the eardrum (tympanic membrane). Then 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 cochlea.

When sound waves reach the inner ear, they are converted into electrical impulses that the auditory nerve sends to the brain. These electrical impulses are then translated by the brain into sound.

Do you have problems with your or a loved one’s hearing or questions about ear health? Don’t wait. Contact the knowledgeable team at ENT, Sinus & Hearing Care Center today. We can help.

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