Have you ever been to the doctor’s office for a problem with your ears? Unfortunately, I’ve seen the doctor many times for reoccurring ear infections and it simply was not fun. As one that swam a lot in a pond, I was prone to these ear infections. Commonly called swimmers ear, or as medically termed otitis externa, swimming in a dirty pond allowed a lot of bacteria to enter my ear canal. Because of all these ear infections, my I decided to by an otoscope.
An otoscope is the medical instrument that doctors use to look inside your ear. The device consists of a magnifying glass and light so that the middle and outer ear may be closely examined. On the section of the otoscope that enters the ear, known as the distal, a disposable cover (specula) is used so that infections can’t spread from ear to ear. I got our otoscope here, but I’m sure you can find one at your local store if you would like to buy one.
Just about every household should really have an otoscope. Besides being able to detect outer infections, these devices can be used to check for inner ear infections (otitis media) and excessive earwax (cerumen). More advanced models, such as those made by Welch Allyn, also have pneumatic functions that perform mobility tests on the eardrum (tympanic membrane) to make sure it has not ruptured. Especially for those families that have young children, which are prone to frequent ear infections, otoscopes are must have devices for concerned parents.
In my situation, detecting outer ear infections was one thing. Preventing them was another story. As one that loves to swim, with a pond in my back yard, it was difficult for me to stop swimming in it. For whatever reason, there was a high bacteria count in our pond and not even the hot summer heat was enough to kill it off. The moment I stopped swimming in our pond, my reoccurring ear infections stopped. For me, this was a bitter-sweet pill to swallow, but was the right choice for my personal health.
These days I do most of my swimming in a chlorinated indoor pool. While swimming in an in-ground pool will never offer the joy of bumping into a turtle like my pond did, I’ve yet to have another ear infection. And those that have experienced the pain severe ear infections can produce, this is a good thing.
Although I’ve taken the steps necessary to prevent ear infections, I still occasionally have trouble with my ears. I get a sensation of pressure behind the eardrum, which is something an otoscope can not handle. With the exception of fluid behind the ears, otoscopes are limited in scope to the outer and middle ear. Regardless, the pressure I feel on occasion is the result of pressure behind the eardrum. Normally a large yawn will allow the eustachian tube to open enough to de-pressurize my ears and offer me relief.
If you are experiencing problems with your ears, you definitely should look into getting an otoscope. Having this device handy in time of need is useful for those that don’t like running to the doctor for every ache and pain. Sometimes the discomfort we feel in our ears is easily remedied by removing earwax. Other times it can be an infection. But with having your own otoscope, you can detect ear infections in the earliest stages so that antibiotics can overcome the infection quickly and with the least amount of discomfort as possible.