Otoscope used by doctors to examine the inside of the patient’s ear. You can also use an otoscope at home, but a doctor should only make the diagnosis. The otoscope helps to determine if the ear is infected or if there is another type of ear problem. It is important that the otoscope had fresh batteries and kept adequately to get the clearest view. Keeping the otoscope properly will also prevent injury if the individual examined is writing.
• Decide which of the individual ears you want to check first. When you go first to examine the left ear, place the otoscope in your left hand. When you go to examine the right ear, place the otoscope in your right hand.
• Slide your hand near the eyepiece. According to the University of Bristol, keeping the otoscope near the ground ensures more movement of the tip in the individual’s ear, which can cause discomfort to the individual.
• Place the handset in the individual ear canal. Make sure that you are the largest handset that will fit in the ear canal for the best view.
• Hold the tip of the individual ear with your free hand. Lift it back and up to get a better view.
• Repeat with the second ear. Remember to switch the otoscope in your hand to properly hold it for the opposite ear.
How to do an otoscopy
When you arrive at the doctor’s office to perform an otoscopy, he will ask you some general questions about your health status and about the discomforts for which you consult. When you have finished, you will begin to explore part of your body. If your discomfort focuses on the ears, you will go directly to explore them. First, it will feel the ear and the surroundings of the auditory canal; if they are painful, they could indicate a local infection.
Then use the otoscope to explore the canal and middle ear. Sometimes it is necessary for the doctor to turn off the light in the office so that the only light that is received is that of the otoscope and the ear is correctly focused. Insert the end of the head through the hole in the ear, while gently pulling the ear up and back, so the ear canal straightens and can be explored more comfortably. It may be a bit annoying, but you will not feel pain unless you have a local infection.
The first thing the doctor will look at is the appearance of the ear canal. The normal thing is that it is covered with pink skin, with some fine hairs and remnants of cerumen. If there is an infection, the skin will be more red, inflamed and there will be more quantity of cerumen. If there is a wax plug, it will not be seen beyond it, and if there is an insect or another object it will look directly.
Then he will explore the eardrum, which is the most delicate part of the exploration. You will have to check that it is not domed, red or inflamed. The doctor will make sure that the structures are kept in their correct position, the most important are: the cone of light (where the light is reflected), the handle of the hammer (where the chain of ossicles is inserted) and the flaccid part ( a thinner part that easily ignites).
Once seen an ear the doctor will remove the otoscope and clean it, then he will explore the other ear to compare. Repeat the same exploration meticulously and when finished you can leave the otoscope behind. It will be then when he tells you if he sees something suspicious or that concerns him. If you can, you will be diagnosed with a disease and will propose a treatment. If the pathology is more complex, you can request more tests, or you will be referred to the otolaryngologist for surgical treatment or other options.
Complications of otoscopy
Severe complications in otoscopy are not very frequent. Some that may occur once are:
- Irritation of the auditory canal with pain, which usually occurs when there is a local infection.
- Contagious infection from one ear to another, which is avoided by cleaning the otoscope correctly.
- Perforation of the eardrum, which is infrequent because the end of the head is very short.
Tips and Warnings
- Always wash your hands before using the otoscope. You do not need to sterilize on the otoscope if you are using disposable earphones.