IMPORTANT USE INFORMATION: Please read carefully
Doubtless, you will find it
useful to have an otoscope available in your home. The best way to
practice using your otoscope is with the help of an adult volunteer
who has ear canals relatively free of ceruman (ear wax). To see the
eardrum, grasp the outer ear. Gently pull backward and slightly
upward on the ear (see ear picture below).
will help to straighten the ear canal for the best "line of sight."
Gently insert the otoscope while looking into its lens. You will
begin to see when structures inside the ear come into focus. The
focal length for optimal visualization of the eardrum varies upon
the size of the ear canal. The length of the ear canal is variable
in each and every person so it is important to watch closely through
the lens while inserting the specula tip into the ear canal. This
way you will know the instant your focal length is ideal and thus
focus on the eardrum is at it’s best. (Never
pry or force the otoscope into the ear canal).
Most physicians and nurses will
tell you the way they learned to do otoscope exams was by practicing
on each other back in medical and nursing school. The same holds
true in this case. Find some willing adults and start looking into
ear canals. Soon you will recognize what is normal. After you
mastered the adult exam then you can move on to children and
infants. Be patient in the learning process. Included you will also
find 3 sizes of specula. It is recommended to begin your exam in
adults with the largest diameter specula and move downward in size
if needed. In children begin with the smallest diameter specula and
move up in size if able.
You should be aware that it is
occasionally impossible to see the eardrum of a small child, or even
that of a rare adult, even with the most expensive professional
otoscopes. This is because the canal cannot be straightened
sufficiently or it is occluded with ceruman (ear wax).
Usually, the view that is
attainable is a function of ear canal size, and the presence of
ceruman build-up. As a physician of many years experience, I assure
you that virtually anything can be seen with our otoscopes that can
be seen with the $400 wall mounted Welch Allyn model otoscopes that
I use at work.
The wall mounted Welch Allyn’s I
use in the ER use 110 volt electricity as their power source. The
portable models we sell use batteries, it is important to use fresh,
strong batteries to maximize your light.
IMPORTANT: If you normally where glasses or contacts please
leave them on while looking through your otoscope. We have had
customers contact us saying that they could not see the eardrum
because the instrument focused to close to the end of the specula.
98% of the time these were customers who were nearsighted and they
had removed their glasses before looking into the lens of the
otoscope. Occasionally we have had an issue with a defective lens.
It is also important to not hold the otoscope too far away from your
eye when looking into it.
If you are having any problem
focusing on the eardrum I will include
a quick and easy way to test to see if the otoscope lens is
functioning properly or if the problem is simply user error or an
ear canal to difficult to see in to due to earwax, debris, or
otoscope is a magnifier and a light whose job it is to focus clearly
at approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch from the tip of the specula. The
test below allows you to tell if the otoscope is doing its job
otoscope to look at newsprint you can quickly tell if there is a
possible lens defect causing things to not focus properly. The
eardrum is normally around 1 inch away from the entrance to the
outer ear in adults and ¾ inch away in small children. When you
subtract out the ¼ inch you normally insert the otoscope speculum
into the ear canal your focal point should be between ½ and ¾ inches
away when you look at the eardrum with the otoscope. You can test if
the otoscope is functioning properly by viewing print from a
magazine or newspaper and measuring the approximate distance the
otoscope tip is away from the print when everything is in clear
focus. It should be somewhere between ½-3/4 inch away. The print
should also be very clear and not distorted. Please let another member
of your family complete the test as well and see if they get a similar
result as your test. Please notify us immediately if it appears your
otoscope has a lens defect or any other problem.
BOTTOM LINE: If the light is bright and the focus on the
newsprint is clear at 1/2-3/4 inch from the tip of the specula then
the reason you are not seeing the eardrum clearly while doing an
exam is not the fault of the otoscope. There are other factors
causing this (i.e. earwax, debris, or ear canal curvature). If the
newsprint is blurry or the light dim then there is a defect in the
P.S. The two most frequent questions I am asked.
Is it difficult for parents to learn to do ear exams?
one of those questions that has two answers....yes and no. The key
to doing ear exams is practice. It is important to begin doing
otoscope exams on a willing adult as opposed to a child. The ear
canals are larger and the eardrum is easier to see in an adult. The
key is to look into as many adult ear canals as possible to get a
feel for what a normal eardrum looks like. When you visualize an
eardrum that is red, has fluid behind it, or is simply abnormal you
will quickly recognize this.
saying practice makes perfect could not apply more to any situation
than it does to doing ear exams.
Always go slow and
never ever force or pry the otoscope in an ear canal in any way
shape or form. Always look to see what is in front of you
through the viewing window of the otoscope before advancing it into
an ear canal. Never push the specula tip into the ear canal unless
you have a clear view that there is nothing in front of you.
It is also a good idea to have someone stabilize the head of a small
child or infant since they can and will often jerk their head or
pull away when something strange is being inserted into their ear.
Again much of this is good old common sense, always remember to go
slow and never push or pry with the otoscope.
that in some children and even adults it is impossible to see the
eardrum. Some children and even adults have very small ear canals
and/or also filled with earwax and debris which make it impossible
to see the eardrum. Even as a physician it is impossible to see into
also advisable especially with pediatric exams to get the help of
your local pediatrician. Many pediatricians today are very
supportive of home ear exams and recognize the value of parents
being able to monitor for the earliest signs of ear infection.
Pediatricians also recognize the importance of the early recognition
of earwax occlusions that can cause hearing loss. If not recognized
early this hearing loss can go on to affect the speech development
in young children.
Disposable Specula work with the Dr Mom Otoscope?
Yes our otoscope works well with most
major brands of disposable specula as well as the disposable specula
we sell on our website. The key to using disposable specula is
learning how they are placed on the otoscope.
(Please see the
Using Disposable Specula:
The disposable specula fit into the otoscope head, not over
the non-disposable speculum that it ships with. The disposable
specula fit VERY snugly into place, some people find it easier to
put one side in and push the rest of it in next. You may find it
easier to do this with the otoscope placed on a table with the hole
the specula fits into facing you. There is a little ridge inside the
otoscope head that the disposable specula slide up against when they
are in place.