What is the
outer ear?

The outer ear consists of an outwardly visible part – the part you wear earrings on or cover with earmuffs. But there is also part of the outer ear that you can’t see with the naked eye, including your eardrum.

The auricle

The auricle, sometimes called the pinna, is the part of your ear that everybody sees. It includes your earlobes, where many people like to wear ear jewelry. Most of the auricle is made of cartilage, which is a soft type of bone.

The auricle works like a big funnel that collects sound and focuses sound towards your inner ear. Auricles can look different from person to person, but unless the unusual formation affects hearing, medical intervention is not required. 

Side view of a man's ear.

The ear canal

The auricle funnels sound into your ear canal, which acts as a sound highway towards your inner ear. The ear canal can get blocked from time to time with wax, water or other substances. 

If your hearing is not what it should be because of a blockage, see a professional for help. Don’t try to fix it yourself. You might damage your hearing permanently.

The ear drum

As a membrane, the eardrum works like a skin spread over a drum. When sounds reach it from outside, it vibrates and sends the ‘beat’ on to the inner ear and the brain. 

The eardrum is surprisingly strong, but it can be ruptured by a sharp blast of sound. Many ruptured eardrums repair themselves within a few weeks, but others require surgery.

The outer ear
and hearing loss

If you have hearing loss caused by problems in the outer ear or middle ear, it is known as conductive hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when an obstruction prevents sound waves from reaching the inner ear. Often it is temporary, caused by an accumulation of ear wax or fluid in the middle ear. Permanent conductive loss is usually caused by damage to the eardrum or bones inside the middle ear.
Conductive hearing loss
ReSound hearing care professional interacting with a patient during an appointment.