Whether you’re practicing for medical school or you’re a caring parent, getting an otoscope can be a good idea. This little device can help you spot ear infections and other problems so that you can get the proper treatment for your children or spouse. Here are a few reasons why you would want to get one of the many otoscopes on the market.
What is an otoscope and what does it do?
An otoscope is a medical instrument that is used to perform ear examinations. This device has a handle and a head, the latter being equipped with a small magnifying lens on the back end and a tip that accepts a plastic ear specula on the front end. There is also an illumination device to help improve visibility during the examination.
This instrument is used by doctors to check for signs of ear infections or illnesses. The doctor pulls the outer ear to straighten the ear canal and then looks closely with the otoscope at the canal walls and eardrum, which is also called a tympanic membrane. Because the eardrum sits right between the ear canal and the middle ear, changes to its appearance can signal a problem.
While these tests are usually reserved for doctors only, worried parents can still use a home version of the device to check up on their kids, provided that they understand how to properly use it and that they will take every safety precaution possible to avoid damaging the ear canal, eardrum, or other body parts.
If you find it hard to hold down your child for even a few minutes to take a good look inside his ears, then you might want to leave the job to a specialized doctor.
Practice before you enter medical school
If are planning to become a doctor, then you might want to get an otoscope for a medical student so you can practice on how to use it properly. Not only will doing so allow you to be ahead of your class, but it could also save you from the embarrassment of having to pretend to know how to use it.
There are also quite a few medical schools that actually require their students to purchase their own otoscopes. The good news is that the market is filled with offers, and you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money since you can find quality otoscopes that are inexpensive. Many of them come in complete kits so you don’t need to get any accessory afterward.
Check your kids’ ears for signs of infection
Whether your kids are complaining about their ears itching or hurting or you just want to perform a routine check, you can use an otoscope to carefully look at their eardrums and ear canals. In some cases, you might not be able to see much due to earwax, foreign objects, liquids, or other factors that might make proper observations impossible.
Children are often at increased risks of developing ear infections and otoscopes offer a good way to help detect some early signs. There are some otoscope kits on the market that come with pictures of the common eardrum and ear pathologies that you can use to try to discern if there’s something wrong.
However, you should try to avoid diagnosing the problem on your own. Poor technique and foreign bodies can influence what you see, and in many cases, a red eardrum is not necessarily a sign of infection. If you do manage to see something that looks worrying, you might want to double check by scheduling your child for a visit to a doctor.
You should also avoid trying to treat or medicate a problem you think is there, since you might misdiagnose, overtreat, or in cases of viral infections, administer the wrong treatment.
Get a model that’s compatible with your mobile phone and other devices
You should be glad to learn that you can also buy an otoscope that can be plugged into your mobile phone. This type of otoscope can come in the form of a cable with a camera on one end and a USB connector on the other. Other models can attach directly to your iPhone so that you can turn it into a digital otoscope.
Otoscopes with USB connectors can be connected to a variety of devices, from smartphones to tablets, laptops, or even desktop PCs. You will be able to enjoy larger views with better quality so that you have a higher chance of figuring out if the eardrum is infected, obscured, or just red in color because of the cold weather.
You can find good quality inexpensive otoscopes
There are lots of medical instruments that can break the bank. The good news is that otoscopes are not among them. You can find a huge variety of otoscopes on the market that come in various sizes, designs, and with multiple functions.
Some of these come with regular incandescent bulbs while others feature advanced LED systems or even halogen bulbs. Most otoscope kits provide replaceable specula of various sizes so that you get to use the right one for your specific needs.
You could also consider purchasing a model that is equipped with a detachable 3x magnifying lens as well as an insufflation valve for effortless cleaning. If you want to be able to perform eye examinations as well, then you also have the option of going for an efficient otoscope ophthalmoscope set and save money by not having to buy two separate medical devices.
Adults can get infections too
While children tend to be more vulnerable to ear infections, adults can get them too, so an otoscope can also enable you to check your spouse or parents as well. Elder people are also susceptible to ear infections so an otoscope can be a great tool if you’re working in a nursing home care center.
Performing ear checks on senior members is actually quite important since many of them tend to forget cotton balls inside their ears, and even small fragments can lead to infections and other problems if they get stuck inside the ear canal for too long.