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The middle ear is an air-filled cavity that holds a chain of three bones: the hammer (malleus), the anvil (incus) and the stirrup (stapes). These bones are separated from the outer ear by the eardrum (tympanic membrane), which vibrates when struck by a sound wave.
The middle ear is connected to the back of your nose and upper part of your throat by a narrow channel called the auditory tube (eustachian tube). The tube opens and closes at the throat end to equalize the pressure in the middle ear with that of the environment and drain fluids. Equal pressure on both sides of the eardrum is important for normal vibration of the eardrum.
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