Dear Dr. Roach: Does a person with Eustachian tube dysfunction have to be careful when washing her or his hair? I am concerned that the water that gets into the ear can be felt going down the throat. Or is that another problem? K.C.H.
Answer: The ear has three compartments: external, middle and inner. The external ear is all of the part you can touch, all the way to the tympanic membrane (eardrum). It is watertight (unless there is a perforation or a doctor has placed a tube in the eardrum). The middle ear is the location of three bones that connect the eardrum to the cochlea, the organ of hearing. The cochlea and the organ of Corti, from which you derive your sense of balance, comprise the inner ear.