The inner ear is liquid filled a portion of the human hearing system that provides the framework for the transmission of the stimulation of nerve impulses from the outer ear to the brain. This configuration helps to establish the mechanism for the components of the inner ear to receive the vibrations that are passed from the outer ear to the middle ear and finally to the inner region, where the nerve endings process and transmit the data to the brain.
Inner ears are composed of two main parts. The cochlea is the portion concerned mainly with the sense of hearing. Cochleae have an appearance that is somewhat like that of a small snail, and are coated with a layer of small hair cells that sense the sounds received and transmit the signals to the auditory nerve system that in turn forward the data on to the brain.
The second major component of the inner ear is known as the labyrinth. Unlike the cochlea, the labyrinth is more concerned with helping to maintain a proper sense of balance. In appearance, the labyrinth is somewhat like that of semicircular canals that help to acclimate the balance as outside conditions change.
Located in the temporal bone, the inner ear controls how the brain reacts to various types of stimuli. This includes the assimilation of sound waves and producing the end effect that we think of as hearing, as well as adjusting the balancing of the body as the individual moves about, so that a sense of equilibrium is maintained. When the inner ear is damaged or impaired in some manner, a loss of hearing an inability to stand or walk properly is common.
Infections can temporarily impact the function of the inner ear. When the distress is the result of some type of bacterial invasion, medication will often help to clear up the infection and remove the source of the discomfort. However, trauma to the inner ear, such as in some type of accident, can lead to permanent damage. In the case of the cochlea, this may mean the insertion of an implant that will help to partially restore hearing ability.