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Ears - looking after your ears

damage; infection; bacteria; hearing; ear; hear; ear; sound; senses; sun; safety; allergy; eardrum;


What is hearing?

Hearing is one of our senses.

different types of earsLook at an animal like a cat or a dog and you will notice that they are turning their ears to hear what is happening all around them.

listeningOur ears do not need to turn about, as we are able to catch sound waves from any direction, and funnel them into our ears. Sometimes if we hear something very faintly in the distance we may turn in that direction to improve our chances of hearing more clearly.

Ears are an important part of helping us to cope with our world.

They need us to look after them.

Looking after ears

  • Keep your ears clean by washing them when you wash your face or hair.
  • Cells lining the ear canal make wax to protect the fragile skin in the canal from dirt and water. It is needed and you should not try to remove it. Don't poke anything into your ear canal - not even a cotton bud. The topic Swimmer's ear - an infection in your ear canal can tell you about what might happen if you damage the lining of the ear canal.
  • Loud noise can damage your hearing. Any noise that makes your ears ring or feel dull is too loud. Have a look at Ears - keeping your ears safe from noise
  • See your doctor if your ears hurt or they keep feeling blocked up.
  • Use sun-screen and a hat to protect the outside and top of your ears when you are outside in the sun. Our topic 'Sunburn' tells you more about protecting your skin from the sun.

Looking after your hearing

The three main causes of hearing loss are:

  • getting older
  • ear infections (in-fek-shuns)
  • noise!!!

Have a look at Ears - hearing problems

Getting older

older person
The hair cells in your inner ear can become damaged as you get older, so the messages going to your brain are not as clear.

This is not a problem that is going to worry you for a long time yet, except that you may need to talk more clearly to your grandparents and stand where they can see your face when you are speaking.

What is an ear infection?

Germs like bacteria and viruses can get into your body (like when you have a cold) and they can go inside the middle ear (space behind the ear drum). Your body tries to fight them by making a lot of thick stuff, called pus and mucus, which is full of germ fighting cells.

Your ear starts to feel like it is really full and wants to pop. This can really hurt.

A middle ear infection is called otitis media (say o-ti-tis media).

Middle ear infections often happen after a cold.

You can also get an infection of the outer part of your ear - see the topic 'Swimmer's ear'.

What causes it?

colds and fluWhen you have a cold your Eustachian tube (say you-stay-shun) can get blocked up.

This tube is between your middle ear and the back of your nose and throat.

The Eustachian tube allows air to move in and out of your middle ear to stop pressure building up.

Have you ever felt your ears "pop" when you've been on a plane or a fairground ride? That's the Eustachian tube doing its job.

Little kids can get ear infections more often than bigger people, because their Eustachian tubes are much smaller and can block up more often.

Allergies can cause your Eustachian tubes to block too, giving you 'blocked ears'. If you already know that you are allergic to something (like pollen or grasses), you may have medication from your doctor to take when your nose gets runny or your eyes are itchy, and this might stop you from getting an ear infection.

What can you do?

  • Tell Mum or Dad if your ears hurt.
  • See your doctor. The doctor will look down your ear with a special kind of torch called an otoscope (say o-toe-skope). This will show if you've got an infection.
  • Take your medicine. You may have to take some medicine called antibiotics. This medicine will help your body to fight the germs.
  • Stay away from cigarette smoke.
  • Stay warm and out of wind (it can make your ears hurt more if they are a bit sore).
  • Keep away from others. They can't catch your ear infection, but they can catch your cold!

    Ears are for hearing
    They're not the right place
    For poking and prodding
    Or filling the space
    With small things like beads
    Small sweeties or gum 
    Putting things into your ears
    Is just DUMB!
    - BH

Mario says:"
"Grandma told me that the only thing you should put in your ear is your elbow!"

Imagine how funny that would look!

Dr Kim says:

Dr Kim

"Some people get sore ears when they go to a swimming pool.

They may wear a swimming cap or ear plugs to protect their ears."




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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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