Skip to content

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

Home Ear Examination

A home ear examination is a visual inspection of the ear canal and eardrum camera.gif using an instrument called an otoscope camera.gif. An otoscope is a handheld instrument with a light, a magnifying lens, and a funnel-shaped viewing piece with a narrow, pointed end called a speculum.

A home ear examination can help detect many ear problems, such as ear infections, excessive earwax, or an object in the ear canal.

After receiving instructions and training from a doctor, home ear examinations can be helpful for parents of young children who frequently get ear infections and earaches. Sometimes a child may have an ear infection in which the only outward symptom may be fussiness, a fever, or tugging at the ear. A home ear examination may help reveal the cause of these symptoms. But it can be hard to learn to use an otoscope, and some otoscopes are of poor quality. An examination with a doctor is often necessary.

Why It Is Done

A home ear examination may be done to:

  • Look for signs of infection when a person has an earache or when a young child has vague symptoms.
  • Check for a foreign object in the ear, such as an insect or a bean.
  • Check for earwax buildup when a person complains of hearing loss or of fullness or pressure in the ear.

How To Prepare

No special preparation is needed before having this test. Always remember to clean the ear speculum in hot, soapy water before using it.

How It Is Done

If you are going to examine a young child, have the child lie down with his or her head turned to the side, or have the child sit on an adult's lap and rest his or her head on the adult's chest. Older children or adults can sit with their head tilted slightly toward the opposite shoulder. Sitting is the best position for identifying otitis media with effusion (fluid behind the eardrum).

Select the largest viewing piece that will fit easily into the ear canal, and attach it to the otoscope.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 10, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
man rubbing painful knee
A visual guide.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
human lungs
Symptoms, causes, treatments.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
two male hands
Test your knowledge.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.