Ear Infection (Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine)
Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear space, which lies behind the eardrum (tympanic membrane). It is characterized by pain, dizziness, and partial loss of hearing.
A little knowledge of the basic anatomy of the middle ear will be helpful for understanding the development of otitis media. The external ear canal is a tube that leads from the outside opening of the ear to a structure called the tympanic membrane. Behind the tympanic membrane is the space called the middle ear. Within the middle ear are three tiny bones called ossicles. These are the malleus, the incus, and the stapes. Their shapes are often described as a hammer, an anvil, and a stirrup. Sound in the form of vibration causes movement in the eardrum, and then in the chain of ossicles. The ossicles transmit the sound to the cochlea within the inner ear, which sends it to the brain for processing.
The nasopharynx is the passageway behind the nose that takes inhaled air into the breathing tubes leading to the lungs. The eustachian tube is a canal that runs between the middle ear and the nasopharynx. One of the functions of the eustachian tube is to keep the air pressure in the middle ear equal to that outside. This equalization of the air pressure allows the eardrum and ossicles to vibrate appropriately, so that...
(The entire section is 3376 words.)
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