How our body works, Part 7 – the ears
By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
For the past two weeks, we talked about how our eyes work as an entry of the visual energies to our bodies. These images feed us, just as food and drink feed us. This week we will discuss how our ears work as the entry of sounds to our bodies. Sounds are also energies. Sounds also feed us. So just as we need to be careful with what we feed our eyes, we need to be careful with what we feed our ears. These sights and sounds are processed (digested) in our brains which translate them into thoughts then manifested in actions. We want good thoughts and actions? Then let’s “eat” good sounds and sights.
Now let’s go to the technical part. How do the ears work? The ears are a pair of organs for hearing and maintaining balance. The ears contain 2 systems – the auditory system to detect sound and the vestibular system to maintain body balance and equilibrium. This issue we will discuss the auditory system, our built-in sound system.
The ears are divided into 3 regions – the external ear, the middle ear and inner ear. What you see is only the external ear- the ear lobes and the ear canal. Beyond ear canal are the middle ear, then the inner ear. These two regions have very delicate structures so our Creator encased them in the hard bone of our skull for protection but located outside the brain. Next time you eat pig head or chicken head, try to examine the region of the ears and you will know better how our ears are located, how tiny the inner parts are and how delicately they are structured.
The position of the ears in the opposite sides of your face is not an accident of nature – it is so to help you determine where the sound is coming from. (Nothing in nature is without purpose, for that matter.)
If you stretch the external ear and look inside, you can see a plastic -like film at the end of the ear canal. This is the eardrum and it separates the external ear from the middle ear. It also serves as a cover so water or any liquid or solid cannot enter the middle and inner ear. So when water accidentally gets into your ear, don’t panic. It will dry in time. The middle ear is an air-filled cavity containing the smallest 3 movable bones in the body – the hammer, anvil and stirrup – named such because they look like such. In this middle ear also is the canal that connects the ear to the throat (called Eustachian tube), thus making the ear susceptible to infection or clogging with mucus. Swallowing, chewing or yawning opens this tube and this equalizes air pressure for better hearing. That’s why you will feel your ears clogged as you descend from Baguio to La Union or when your airplane descends for landing. You need to swallow or drink water a lot of times to equalize the air pressures. Those with colds can also have this Eustachian tube clogged with mucus thus diminishing hearing and causing discomfort.
The inner ear is a maze of fluid-filled tubes (shaped like a snail shell) which contain the hair cells – the actual hearing cells and sense organs responsible for balance. See how the Creator placed deep inside the most important parts.
How are we able to hear sounds?
Sound is a form of energy that travels in waves through air, fluid and other matter. The external ear collects the sound waves, directs them through the ear canal where they strike the eardrum causing it to vibrate (it is an actual drum), and moving the small bones behind it. These vibrations agitate the fluid which in turn agitate the hair cells. The movement of the hair cells convert these vibrations into nerve impulses which are then transmitted through a nearby nerve to the hearing center in the brain. It is this hearing center that will interpret the nerve impulses into sound. Isn’t that amazing! Sound waves are converted into vibrations then nerve impulses then sound again. So if your built-in sound system is good, you will hear exactly the same word as what the speaker has said. “Thigh” does not become “sigh” and “sub-prime mortgage” does not become “surprise mortgage”.
In the past, hearing loss or deafness was associated with ageing. Nowadays, even young people have trouble hearing. In America, people are having hearing loss 20 years earlier than usual. What causes hearing loss or deafness? Here are major causes:
1. Some people become partially deaf because of ruptured eardrums due to ear infections in childhood or trauma to the ears.
2. In other people, the small bones- hammer, anvil and stirrup- are stuck together by sticky sugar, fat or mucus so these cannot vibrate well. This condition results from the overconsumption of mucus or fat-forming foods such as sugar, animal fat, dairy products (milk, cheese, margarine, cream), fruits and fruit juice, nuts and nut butters. Take note that most of our breads and cookies contain sugar and dairy. Just ask your baker.
3. The fluid in the inner ear could also become thick and sticky. How can the hair cells move freely in this environment? Remember that it’s the hair cells that transmit the sound vibrations. Extremely expansive foods like sugars, ice-cold drinks, ice cream/iced foods, and many medications can make the fluid thick and sticky.
4. Prolonged exposure to loud sounds also damage these delicate hair cells thus you will notice that those who tune in their TV/radio/MP3s/iPods so loudly have hearing loss (although they will not accept it). And this is why head phones are not advisable.
Our ears are vital for communication. Good communication is important for our survival so let us take care of our ears by eating well as early as we can in life (avoiding what needs to be avoided) and avoiding noise pollution. Let us not deposit fat and mucus in them, or in any part of our body. Our ears are closely correlated with our kidneys thus what benefits our ears will also benefit our kidneys and, in the long run, the rest of our body.***
Psalm 138:5-6 “All the kings of the earth will praise you, O Lord, when they have heard the words of your mouth. They will sing of the ways of the Lord, that great is the glory of the Lord.”