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What is an ear examination?


Your doctor will perform an ear examination, or otoscopy, if you have:

  • an earache
  • an ear infection
  • hearing loss
  • ringing in your ears
  • any other ear-related symptoms

Your doctor can examine your ear to diagnose an ear infection or to see if treatments for an ear condition are working. Ear infections are common, especially in children.

Why is an ear examination performed?

Your doctor may also perform an ear exam if you’ve had or are experiencing the following:

An ear exam may be slightly uncomfortable or painful if you have an ear infection. Your doctor will stop the exam and remove the otoscope if the pain worsens.

How is an ear examination performed?

Your doctor may dim the lights in the exam room to make it easier to see your ear canal and eardrum with an otoscope. An otoscope is a handheld light with a removable plastic tip shaped like a cone that allows the doctor to look inside your ear.

Your doctor will gently pull in the following directions to straighten your ear canal:

  • up
  • down
  • forward
  • back

Then, they’ll place the tip of the otoscope into your ear and shine a light into your ear canal and down to your eardrum. They’ll carefully rotate the otoscope in different directions to see the inside of your ear and your eardrum.

Your doctor may use a pneumatic otoscope, which has a plastic bulb on the end, to blow a small puff of air against your eardrum. Normally, this air will cause your eardrum to move. Your doctor will see little or no movement if you have an infection and fluid buildup behind your eardrum.

Young children will be asked to lie on their backs with their heads turned to the side to allow the doctor to examine one ear at a time. Older children and adults can sit up, tilting their heads to the side to allow the doctor to examine each ear.

You can purchase an otoscope to check your child’s ears at home if you think they may have an ear infection. Contact their doctor right away if you see any of the following in your child’s ears:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • fluid
  • pus

Cost of an Ear Examination

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