Home Ear Examination
A home ear examination is a visual inspection of the ear canal and eardrum using an instrument called an otoscope . 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.