Congenital abnormalities would include any inborn defect or abnormality in any of the structures of the external, middle, or inner car. Those can include bony or soft tissue and narrowing of the ear canal that can lead to hearing loss and problems with evacuation of wax from the ears, abnormalities in the structure and function of the ear drum, or, more commonly, abnormalities in the structure and function of the ossicles or middle ear bones. These types of abnormalities often lead to hearing loss and chronic car infections and disease. Some of them can be surgically treated with significant success. Dr. Shinhar specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of all different ear abnormalities and will recommend the right course of treatment for your child.
How Do We Hear?
Hearing starts with the outer ear. When a sound occurs, 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 cause movement of fluid inside the inner ear (cochlea). The movement of fluid inside the cochlea stimulates the haircells (special sensory receptors).
The movement of the haircells causes electrical impulses that stimulate the auditory nerve (the nerve for hearing). This nerve sends the information to the parts of the brain responsible for hearing.
The parts of the ear include:
External or Outer Ear, consisting of:
- Pinna or auricle: the outside part of the ear
- External auditory canal or tube: 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:
- 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 a mucous membrane, just like the inside of the nose and throat.
Inner Ear, consisting of:
- Cochlea (contains the hair cell receptors for hearing)
- Vestibule (contains receptors for balance)
- Semicircular canals (contain receptors for balance)