Help me find a camera or tool to look inside my ear
March 12, 2014 4:55 PM   Subscribe

I have frequent ear problems, getting psoriasis in my ears, or impacted earwax, or sometimes a mild case of swimmers ear, or sometimes just pain due to my TMJ. My doctor and my ENT has gotten annoyed at me going in to see him so much (almost monthly) due to ear pain and usually just says my ears look fine. I need a camera to look inside my ears to see whats going on before I go to the doctor. I have watched alot of videos of peoples ear problems and done alot of research and know what what to look for and will go to the doctor if there is something wrong with my ears. I have a otoscope I bought but don't have anyone to look into it for me and I cant do it myself. Is there someway to hook it up to a camera or webcam? Or does anyone know what camera they use in this video (skip to 0:42)
posted by john123357 to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This limited stock offer just came up on the Lee Valley site. I don't have any experience with it but it seems pretty cool in that it transmits the image to your cell phone or iPad. Lee Valley generally carries pretty solid products.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:10 PM on March 12, 2014

Wouldn't it just be easier (and more normal) to see a different ENT? You don't need to see the same guy every month. Get a second and third opinion.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:15 PM on March 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: bono I don't think that's small enough to fit in the ear
posted by john123357 at 5:18 PM on March 12, 2014

Not cheap but what you want.
posted by drpynchon at 5:27 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is cheaper and also what you want.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:37 PM on March 12, 2014

I want to suggest to you--very gently--that given your AskMe history, you seem to have a lot of anxiety related to your health. More than once you have mentioned healthcare providers becoming "frustrated" with you, or discharging you from a practice. In my opinion, trying to buy an otoscope without benefit of formal training in the use of an otoscope is extreme. "Ear pain," while definitely annoying and uncomfortable, is almost never life-threatening. I suspect that buying a camera to allow even closer scrutiny of your own ear canals will only feed your anxiety, not assuage it.

If your doctors have repeatedly said that your ears look fine, mightn't they be correct? Physical manifestations of anxiety are very common. I spent half of 2008 convinced I was having a stroke. It turned out to be pure anxiety. Please consider seeking help for this.
posted by little mouth at 5:44 PM on March 12, 2014 [57 favorites]

I have used an otoscope to look in my children's ears. I bought it for fairly cheaply off the internet, and thought it would be useful to rule out ear infections. Turns out that even after spending a LOT of time on Google Images, I am absolutely rubbish at figuring out what I'm looking at! I've seen horrible looking eardrums on smiling, laughing children, and completely missed a double strep ear infection in my daughter.

Otoscopy is hard. Doing research and watching lots of videos on the internet is not a substitute for real training, and will not enable you to make health care decisions. If multiple doctors say your ears look fine, there is no reason not to believe them -- they are better trained and have better equipment than you do. If you distrust their judgment, the answer is to see a different doctor, not try to self-diagnose.
posted by KathrynT at 6:00 PM on March 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Lurgi something like that but under $100 is what I am looking for, or if there is a way to attatch a camera to the otoscope I already have
posted by john123357 at 6:50 PM on March 12, 2014

There are all kinds of things in the ear area that could contribute to your pain. Glands, teeth, like you said, TMJ with its joint and corresponding muscles problem. Could even be TMJ arthritis. Psoriasis itself has all kinds of arthritis and gout associated with it. On the left side it could be a signal of a heart attack. I'd try another ENT and maybe even a good dentist/orthodontist that understands TMJ.
posted by PJMoore at 6:57 PM on March 12, 2014

I got this camera and was able to use it with my "dr. mom" otoscope. The lens can focus VERY close, so it's also good for examining other inaccessible parts of the body. Also sells usb endoscopes.
posted by Sophont at 7:02 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Are those USB endoscopes small enough to fit inside the ear?
posted by john123357 at 7:08 PM on March 12, 2014

Please make sure you are not putting anything in your ear that is not designed to go there. You could cause irritation or worse damage something. If you have to ask if it is the right size you shouldn't even try.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:17 PM on March 12, 2014 [10 favorites]

Oh, Johnny boy, I feel your pain. Back in the 1990s I had endless earaches, for about a year. Itchy ears, throbbing pain, ringing ears, dizzy spells... I had it all. I wore out a couple of doctors, too. There was one day when I saw two different doctors, and one said I had a raging ear infection and the other said I looked fine. My earaches were mysterious, and eventually they just went away. Bodies suck.

I don't think you should mess around with trying to see in your own ears. Just don't bother, you'll never be able to do it right and you could waste a lot of time and money trying.

The system I eventually followed was, don't go to a doctor unless the pain has been steadily escalating for a few days. If your pain was bad at 11 AM, got a little better in the afternoon and then got bad again at night, don't go to the ER at 10 PM. Wait until it gets bad and stays bad for a few days solid. Unless it's a truly horrible infection, you're probably OK letting it sit for a few days.

(Of course, if you're in true agony, that's a different deal. If the pain feels dangerous, go see a doc.)

I think this crap is usually allergies or TMJ. Try an OTC mouth guard from CVS, the kind you boil. If this is TMJ, that should help a bit. (Not as much as you'd hope, though. Night guards are better at preventing damage from grinding than they are at preventing pain from grinding.) Also some OTC allergy meds, like Claritin.

If your body is anything like mine, this is just some shitty thing that will torture you for a while, and then it'll stop. Good luck!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:41 AM on March 13, 2014

If you have frequent ear pain and your ENT is just telling you everything is fine, I think you should get a second opinion, and at the very least have a discussion with your doctor about the pain you're having and what could be the cause of it, and what preventative measures you can take.

For example, when the doctor says your ears look fine, what does that mean? No signs of infection? No inflammation? What can be done to prevent these issues you are experiencing?

It can sometimes be a bit of a challenge to advocate for yourself when a doctor is telling you that everything is fine, when you know that something isn't right.

It can also be frustrating when a doctor insists you have allergies when you swear you don't--my ENT insisted on allergy testing because of my frequent sinus pain and infections, which I thought was an absolute waste of my time. It turns out I have some pretty serious allergies, and treating them did help--and moreover, I had to admit my doctor was listening to me and did know exactly what he was doing.

I don't think self-diagnosis is the answer here, I think advocating for yourself to get proper treatment for the issues that you are experiencing is the answer. Based on your previous questions, it does seem like you have some serious health related anxiety and it's not clear whether or not you are able to advocate and communicate with medical professionals well. Do you have a family member or a friend who could help you out with this? My mom is sort of the go-to person for a lot of people in my family for this, because she's very level-headed and calm and asks the right questions.
posted by inertia at 8:13 AM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can really fuck up your ear by putting something in it without training. My ENT always told me never to put anything in my ear smaller than my elbow (yes, this includes q-tips).

What is your plan if you do actually see something? If it's an infection, you can't prescribe yourself antibiotics. If it's a foreign object, you can't get it out on your own (and you really, really shouldn't try).

I have to agree that your problem is anxiety. I'm not saying you dont have ear pain - far from it - but sticking a camera in your ear by yourself is not the solution and could make things worse.

Please don't fuck up your ears. I'm moderately deaf (from birth) and it puts some real constraints on your life.
posted by desjardins at 9:11 AM on March 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Go to an ENT or otolaryngologist. Don't stick things in your ears.

I felt like my right ear was filling with wax, until one day I noticed that if I pressed on the outside of my ear, it would sorta "stick" for a second. It started to hurt and I was afraid I had an ear infection. Went to an otolaryngologist, and she pulled out a plug of earwax the size and shape of my ear canal. Like, I looked at the thing and was like, "I can't believe that fit in my ear." For the rest of the day, I couldn't believe how well I could hear.

Seriously. Go to a doctor.
posted by evil otto at 1:01 PM on March 13, 2014

I get psoriasis in my ear canal and I was told not to put anything on it that wasn't designed for the ear. Just warning you in case self-diagnosing prompts self-treatment.
posted by mippy at 4:47 AM on March 14, 2014

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