Understanding Ear Infections
How do we hear ?
Ear consists of three major parts – the outer ear, middle ear and internal ear. The outer ear has pinna, the part that is visible externally, and the ear canal. Outer ear is separated from middle ear by tympanic membrane or eardrum. Middle ear is air filled, and consists of 3 small bones- malleus, incus and stapes which transmit sound from eardrum to inner ear. Inner ear has hearing and balancing organ. Inner ear has a hearing organ cochlea, which converts sound to electric signal which then reaches the brain.
Main function of ear canal is to protect ear from infection which it does by production of ear wax which traps the debris and creates an acidic environment which doesn’t favour growth of bacteria and prevents the trapping of excessive moisture in the ear.
What are major types of ear infections???
- Otitis externa: It is the skin infection of outer ear or ear canal. The condition occurs most often during the summer with exposure of the ear to water while swimming hence called as swimmer’s ear.
- Otitis media: It is the infection of the middle ear. It is primarily a disease of young infants and children but might occur in adults as well.