Test Overview

An ear exam is a thorough examine of the ears. The is done to display for ear problems, such as hearing loss, ear pain, discharge, lumps, or objects in the ear. One ear exam have the right to find problems in the ear canal, eardrum, and middle ear. These problems may incorporate infection, too much earwax, or an item like a bean or a bead.

During an ear exam, a tool called an otoscope is provided to look at the outer ear canal and eardrum. One otoscope is a handheld tool with a light and also a magnifying lens. It likewise has a funnel-shaped viewing piece with a narrow, pointed end dubbed a speculum. A pneumatic otoscope has a rubber bulb the your doctor can squeeze to give a puff that air right into the ear canal. The air helps the doctor to see how the eardrum moves.

Why the Is Done

An ear exam might be done:

As part of a regime physical exam. To display screen babies and also children because that hearing loss. To uncover the reason of symptom such together earache, a feeling of push or fullness in the ear, or listening loss. To inspect for excess wax buildup or an item in the ear canal. to see how the treatment for an ear problem is working.

How come Prepare

It is important to sit very still during an ear exam. A young child need to be lie down with his or she head turned to the side. Or the child may sit on one adult"s lap v the child"s head resting securely ~ above the adult"s chest. Enlarge children and also adults have the right to sit v the head tilted slightly toward the opposite shoulder.

You are watching: Visual examination of the ear

Your doctor might need to remove earwax in order to check out the eardrum.

How the Is Done

An ear exam can be excellent in a doctor"s office, a school, or the workplace.

For an ear exam, the doctor provides a unique tool referred to as an otoscope to look into the ear canal and see the eardrum.

Your medical professional will gently traction the ear ago and slightly approximately straighten the ear canal. For a infant under 12 months, the ear will certainly be traction downward and out come straighten the ear canal. The medical professional will then insert the pointed end (speculum) of the otoscope into the ear and gently move the speculum with the middle of the ear canal to protect against irritating the canal lining. The medical professional will watch at each eardrum (tympanic membrane).

Using a pneumatic otoscope lets your physician see what the eardrum watch like. It additionally shows how well the eardrum moves when the push inside the ear canal changes. It helps the doctor see if over there is a difficulty with the eustachian pipe or fluid behind the eardrum (otitis media with effusion). A regular eardrum will certainly flex inward and also outward in solution to the changes in pressure.

How the Feels

The physical exam of the ear utilizing an otoscope commonly isn"t painful. If you have actually an ear infection, putting the otoscope into the ear canal may cause mild pain.

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The pointed finish of the otoscope have the right to irritate the lining of the ear canal. This can regularly be avoided by placing the otoscope in slowly and carefully. If the otoscope does scrape the lining the the ear canal, it could reason bleeding or infection, however this is rare.


Results of an ear exam



Ear canals vary in size, shape, and color. The ear canal is skin-colored and lined with little hairs and usually part yellowish brown earwax. The eardrum is generally pearly white or light gray, and also you have the right to see with it. Also, one of the small bones in the middle ear can be seen. The eardrum moves slightly as soon as a puff of wait is blown right into the ear.
Touching, wiggling, or pulling top top the outer ear causes pain. The ear canal is red, tender, swollen, or filled v yellowish environment-friendly pus. The eardrum is red and also bulging or watch dull and slightly pulled inward. Yellow, gray, or amber liquid or bubbles are seen behind the eardrum. over there is a feet in the eardrum (perforation) or whitish scars top top the surface of the drum. The eardrum walk not move as it should when a puff of air is blown into the ear.

Related Information


present as of: December 2, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff clinical Review: Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics E. Gregory Thompson MD - interior Medicine kathleen Romito MD - family members Medicine Charles M. Myer III MD - Otolaryngology

Author: Healthwise employee

Medical Review:Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics & E. Gregory Thompson MD - interior Medicine & catalen Romito MD - family members Medicine & Charles M. Myer III MD - Otolaryngology


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Ear Examination

NOTICE: This wellness information was not developed by the university of Michigan health System (UMHS) and also may not necessarily reflect specific UMHS practices. For medical advice relating to your an individual condition, please consult your doctor. Finish disclaimer