There are three parts to the human ear:  the outer, the middle and the inner.

Sound waves enter the ear and the brain tells us what we are hearing. ©iStock Images

Sound waves enter the ear and the brain tells us what we are hearing. ©iStock Images

The outer ear

Sounds travel in waves through the air and into our ears. Inside the ears, the sound waves move along short tunnels which are about 25 millimetres long. There is wax in the tunnels which helps keep the ear clean. The sound waves reach a thin layer of skin called the eardrum and it vibrates.

The middle ear

Behind the eardrum is the middle ear. Here there are three tiny bones, the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup. These bones vibrate too when the eardrum is hit. This makes liquid and hairs in the next part of the ear, the inner ear, move.

Look inside an ear. Getty Images

Look inside an ear. Getty Images

The inner ear

The liquid and hairs are in a curled tube called the cochlea (say cok - lee - uh). Messages about the vibrations move along  nerves to the brain. The brain tells you what the sound is. 

Keeping your balance

As well as hearing, the ears help us keep our balance. The liquid in the inner ear swirls about when you move. Nerves in the inner ear tell your brain which way you are moving, and this helps you to keep your balance. 

Deafness

Deaf people can't hear. Deafness or hearing loss can happen if a person is born with parts of the ear that don't work properly. Hearing loss can also happen as a result of an accident, because of an illness or an infection in the ear. Listening to very loud music or the loud sounds of machinery can also cause hearing loss. 

A hearing aid can help people with hearing loss to hear.

A 'bionic' ear, or cochlear implant, is a special hearing aid which is put inside the deaf person's head. 

Taking care of your ears

All you need to do to take care of your ears is to wash them. This will remove any ear wax that has dried and moved to the opening of the ear.

It is dangerous to put anything into your ear, as this can irritate the ear and cause infections or damage it.

 

 

 

Read more about ears:

 http://kidshealth.org/kid/htbw/ears.html

Read the kidcyber page about the 'bionic ear':

cochlear implant and its inventor