Ear canal

What is the ear canal (or external acoustic meatus)?

The external ear consists of the external auditory canal, also known as the external acoustic meatus, and the auricle. The external ear canal extends from the auricle to the lateral surface of the eardrum. A characteristic S-shaped structure, it is responsible for collecting sound waves and conveying them to the eardrum.

What is the function of the ear canal?

One of the most important functions of the ear canal is to filter out harmful particles. Together with the auricle, it detects sound waves and directs them towards the tympanic membrane. The external auditory meatus, however, does not allow humans to hear certain frequencies, such as infrasound and ultrasound, but only frequencies between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz.

Anatomy of ear canal (or external acoustic meatus)

How does the external ear canal look like? S-shaped, it measures 22 to 25 millimeters long by 6.3 to 7.8 millimeters wide. A few glands produce earwax in the external auditory canal, which protects and lubricates the inner ear. The external auditory canal is composed of two skeletons: one cartilaginous and one bony. Their surfaces are covered by skin. Let's examine the external auditory canal in more detail.

Cartilage skeleton

In the external auditory canal, the initial track is cartilaginous. Ligaments and muscles make up the cartilage skeleton, and auricle cartilage is the continuation of the cartilage in the lateral acoustic meatus. In contrast, the front has numerous cracks, called the Santorini incisions, occupied by fibrous tissue that allows for ear canal mobility.

Bone portion

Approximately two-thirds of the duct contains bones. Tympanic bone and scale of temporal bone form the external acoustic meatus. The scale is followed by a small tubercle, the spina suprameatum, on which some fibrous bundles come from the fibrous lamina of the cartilage.

The skin of the acoustic meatus

From outside to inside, the thickness of the skin covering the external acoustic meatus decreases; it is rich in sebaceous glands and ceruminous glands. Among these glands are those that produce earwax, which protects the ear canal from moisture and infections.

Ear canal disease 

Among the pathologies of the external auditory canal, the earwax plug, caused by an excessive accumulation of secretion from the ceruminous glands, is the most common. In addition, ear canal dermatitis can cause itching, peeling, and erythema of the skin surrounding the ear canal. Contact eczema can also affect the ear canal, causing itching. The external acoustic meatus can be affected by bacterial infections as well, so it's crucial to keep it clean.

How to clean your ear canal?

Inflammation, which often causes hearing loss, can be prevented by cleaning the ears thoroughly. But how do you do it? The removal of earwax buildup can be facilitated by a variety of treatments. Among them are ear sprays, syringe washing, drops for ear wax, and aspiration procedures for ear wax. Take the time to clean your ears regularly to keep them healthy.

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