Home Ear Examination
How It Is Done continued...
If the person is only having problems with one ear,
examining the other ear first may make it easier to determine what is different
about the affected ear.
When checking the ear of a child older
than 12 months or an adult, hold the otoscope in one hand and use your free
hand to pull the outer ear gently up and back. This straightens the ear canal
and improves visualization. In babies younger than 12 months, gently pull the
outer ear down and back.
insert the pointed end of the viewing piece into the ear canal while looking
into the otoscope. The sides of the ear canal can be quite sensitive, so try
not to put pressure on the ear canal. It may help to steady your hand on the
person's face so your hand moves along with their head in case they move
Do not move the otoscope forward without looking into
it. Make sure you can see the path through the ear canal. You do not need to
insert the viewing piece very far into the ear—the light extends well beyond
the viewing tip.
Angle the tip of the viewing piece slightly
toward the person's nose to follow the normal angle of the canal. While looking
through the otoscope, move it gently at different angles so that you can see
the canal walls and eardrum. Stop at any sign of increased pain. If your view
is blocked by earwax, see the topic Earwax for tips.
Ask your doctor to review this technique with you and to watch you do an
examination. Then practice on some healthy, willing adults so you can learn
what a normal ear canal and eardrum look like. Don't be discouraged if you
can't see the eardrum at first—it takes some practice and experience.
How It Feels
Examining a healthy ear using an otoscope
is usually painless but may cause some mild discomfort if the person being
examined has an ear infection.