How It Is Done continued...
doctor will gently pull your ear back and slightly up to
straighten the ear canal. If a baby under 12 months is being examined, the ear
will be pulled downward and out to straighten the ear canal. The doctor will then insert the pointed end (speculum) of the otoscope into
your ear and gently move the speculum through the middle of your ear canal to
avoid irritating the canal lining. The doctor will look at each
eardrum (tympanic membrane).
Using a pneumatic otoscope lets your
doctor see what the eardrum looks like and how well it moves when
the pressure inside the ear canal is changed. And it helps the doctor
determine if there is a problem with the
eustachian tube or fluid behind the eardrum (otitis media with effusion). A normal eardrum will
flex inward and outward in response to the changes in pressure.
How It Feels
The physical examination of the ear using
an otoscope is usually painless. If you have an ear infection, inserting the
otoscope into the ear canal may cause some pain or mild discomfort.
The pointed end of the otoscope can irritate the
lining of the ear canal, but this can usually be avoided by inserting the
otoscope slowly and carefully. If the otoscope does scrape the lining of the
ear canal, this rarely causes bleeding or infection.
An ear examination is a thorough
evaluation of the
ears that is done to screen for ear problems, such as
ear pain, discharge, lumps, or objects in the ear.
Results of an ear examination
- Ear canals vary in size, shape, and color.
- The ear canal is skin-colored and lined with small
hairs and usually some yellowish brown earwax.
- The eardrum is normally pearly white or light gray,
and you can see through it.
- Also, one of the tiny bones in the middle ear can
- The eardrum moves slightly when a puff of air is
blown into the ear.
- Touching, wiggling, or pulling on your outer ear
- The ear canal is red, tender, swollen, or filled with
yellowish green pus.
- The eardrum is red and bulging or looks dull and
slightly pulled inward (retracted).
- Yellow, gray, or amber liquid or bubbles are seen
behind the eardrum.
- There is a hole in the eardrum (perforation) or
whitish scars on the surface of the drum.
- The eardrum does not move as it should when a puff of
air is blown into the ear.