Whether yours are protruding or pinned to the sides of your head, ears are a part of our anatomy we don’t usually give much thought to. Obviously we need them to hear, and adorning them with earrings or earbuds are added perks for a fashionable flair for the sides of our faces. Ears keep our glasses in place and hold back our hair, and although the package instructions warn not to, we just can’t help but wiggle around cotton swabs to sweep their insides.
If you’re interested in knowing more about your ears, there are lots of things that make them amazing. Aside from their odd shapes and array of sizes, ears are quite involved, and these facts are fascinating. Hold onto your earmuffs—this is about to be an anatomical adventure.
The bones inside the ear are also called auditory ossicles. There are three of them, and they’re the smallest bones in the entire human body. Even your pee-wee pinky toe’s bones are bigger. They help transmit sounds that are essentially “captured” from the air and brought to the brain. Think of these little bones as mini-messengers that make hearing, interpreting, and understanding come together. The thigh bone may be the biggest in the body, but it’ll never “chime in” as the ossicles can. Ya hear that?
A hair-raising realization: Your hearing depends on little hairs that live inside your ear. If those hairs disappear, you won’t be able to hear. Suddenly male-pattern baldness doesn’t seem so bad!
Ear wax isn’t exactly an appetizing conversation starter, but we’ve all got some and need it too. Before you grab another Q-tip and attempt to rid your ears of every last bit of that orange-colored crud, consider that it’s there for a reason. So, curtail the compulsive cleaning, as your ears are able to clean themselves. The wax is what actually keeps the canals clear. While we may think wax is worrisome, it needs to stay put to prevent debris, dirt, and other objects from getting inside. The texture is what traps these things from making their way in; remove it and you’re liable to have an unwanted item fly inside. The winning combo of oil, sweat, and dead skin cells forms the wax we want. Unless you have an overwhelming build-up or bothersome blockage (which you should see a doctor to determine), leave the wax where it is and use your swabs for something else.
A whole world of wax: Different ethnicities tend to have different styles of wax. Africans’ and Caucasians’ wax is moist, and Asians’ and Native Americans’ is flaky and dry. Weird. Wonderful. Wax.
“Dumbo” the elephant is well-known for his enormous ears, but most humans have a hard time finding the finer points of extra-large earlobes. While there are certain cultures and individuals who embrace the art of earlobe stretching and such, for the most part, we can argue that eye-catching earlobes aren’t on the “most wanted” list for most Americans. Too bad time’s not on their side, because as we age, our ears and earlobes get bigger and longer. Bones stop growing after puberty, but cartilage (which makes up the earlobes), keeps at it. Look at your “more mature” family members and friends and see how their ears look compared to the younger folks. Plus, since the earlobes dangle, gravity’s pull adds to the length. It’s safe to say we won’t find anyone with their earlobes dusting the floor, but don’t rule out skimming the shoulders just yet.
Size matters: At least to the ancient Chinese. Long earlobes meant a long life, and the thickness would lead to loads of money. In that case, the bigger the ears, the bigger the diamond earrings!
If you’ve ever felt funny as if the room is spinning or you’re on a merry-go-round, it could be your ears causing the confusion. Unless you’ve just knocked back your sixth shot of schnapps, it’s safe to say your dizziness is ear-related. The fluid inside the ears fluctuates depending upon what you’re doing – standing, sitting, even swimming. A sudden rush, climbing to a high altitude, or an infection could cause an imbalance, leading to that unsteady feeling that can even make you fall down. Those who suffer bouts of vertigo know all too well how debilitating dizziness can be.
Spin cycle: Stop the whirlwind by staying well-hydrated, sipping ginger tea (it’s said to get the blood flowing to the brain), and focusing your eyes on something still. If you just can’t shake the spins, see a medical professional to set things (literally) straight.
You’re now better educated about ears, and your small talk game is far greater. Be the life of the party by perking up people’s ears with your inside information. Hearing from you is sure to be an earful!
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