8.6 What is the Role of the Middle Ear Muscles?

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They are the tuning mechanism for the middle ear, impacting our balance, pressure equalization and attunement to sound.

The middle ear muscles play key roles in both social engagement and ear function. Their correct performance impacts on the following processes:

  1. Vestibular sense – cochlear and vestibular pressure
  2. Eustachian tube dysfunction – blocked ear
  3. Tuning in to listen – Conductive hearing
  4. Hyperacusis – over-sensitivity to sound
  5. Pressure related tinnitus – vestibular malfunction

The Hammer muscle controls the tension on the eardrum, while the stirrup muscle controls the pressure on the inner ear system via the oval window.

Three muscles control the regular opening and closing of the Eustachian tube, enabling our middle ears to maintain equal pressure with the outside air, so that the ear drum can vibrate freely.

Correct functioning of these muscles is essential for our ears to work at their best capacity.

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