The middle ear
The middle ear, also known as the tympanic cavity, has two parts:
- Eustachian tube
The ossicles are three small bones that transmit sound waves to the inner ear. The eustachian tube is a mucus-filled tube that connects the middle ear to the nose. The eustachian tube is important for pressure equalization.
The Importance of the inner ear
The inner ear also has three parts: cochlea, vestibule, and semicircular canals. The cochlea contains the Corti organ, an organ made of hair cells that translate vibrations into messages sent to the brain. Meanwhile, the vestibule contains the saccule and utricle equilibrium structures. These structures connect the cochlea to the semicircular canals. The semicircular canals control balance, an arrangement that distributes sensory information among the body’s organs.
What are ear tubes?
Ear tubes are small cylinders that ventilate the middle ear and stop the buildup of fluids. Usually, the eustachian tube performs this job, but swelling and inflammation can interfere with the process. Ear tubes are made of plastic or metal and are surgically placed in the ear.
What is a myringotomy?
Myringotomy is a surgical procedure that drains fluid from the middle ear. During this procedure, doctors make an incision along the middle ear to release fluid buildup. Doctors may install ear tubes shortly after a myringotomy to prevent additional fluid buildup.
Four signs a person may need a myringotomy
The ear is a complex system with lots of nerves, canals, and membranes that can stop functioning properly at any time. Here are some signs that a person may need a myringotomy.
- Diagnosed with otitis media with effusion
Otitis media with effusion is a medical condition that causes fluid buildup in the middle ear. This condition can cause hearing loss if left untreated.
- Ill-formed eustachian tubes
The eustachian tubes form when a fetus is still in utero, but sometimes the tubes do not develop fully. This can cause drainage problems as the child matures.
Adenoiditis is inflammation of the adenoids. The adenoids are tissues in the throat and nose that aid the body in fighting infections. When these tissues become inflamed, airway blockage occurs, which affects the eustachian tubes because all of these canals are connected.
- Severe cold or allergy
Like adenoiditis, a severe cold or allergy can restrict the airways affecting the eustachian tubes. This condition can lead to the development of otitis media.
When to see a doctor?
If a patient is experiencing any pain or trouble hearing, speak to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. A healthcare provider will perform a thorough examination to detect any signs of infection and fluid buildup.