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An ear examination is when your doctor looks inside your ear using an instrument called an otoscope.
The health care provider may dim the lights in the room.
A young child will be asked to lie on his or her back with the head turned to the side, or the child's head may rest against an adult's chest.
Older children and adults may sit with the head tilted toward the shoulder opposite the ear being examined.
The health care provider will gently pull up, back, or forward on the ear to straighten the ear canal. Then, the tip of the otoscope will be placed gently into your ear. A light beam shines through the otoscope into the ear canal. The health care provider will carefully move the scope in different directions to see the inside of the ear and eardrum. Sometimes, this view may be blocked by earwax.
The otoscope may have a plastic bulb on it, which delivers a tiny puff of air into the outer ear canal when pressed. This is done to see how the eardrum moves. Decreased movement can mean that there is fluid in the middle ear.
No preparation is needed for this test.
If there is an ear infection, there may be some discomfort or pain. The health care provider will stop the test if the pain gets worse.
Murr AH. Approach to the patient with nose, sinus, and ear disorders. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2007:chap 452.
Couch ME. History, physical examination, and the preoperative evaluation. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund VJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 8.
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