Whether it be an ENT (Ear, nose, throat doctor), audiologist, or hearing instrument specialist, an ear doctor’s office can look a little bit odd with all of the various tools and instruments. Each type of ear doctor uses his own types of instruments for different purposes.

Some common instruments used by hearing specialists include:

  • Otoscope
  • Curette
  • Irrigator

Let’s take a look at these common instruments and what they are used for. Read below to find out.

Instruments to Look in Your Ears

It’s a common question: “What is that thing that the ear doctor uses to look inside you ear?” The instrument that most people are asking about is called an otoscope. An otoscope (also known as an auriscope) is a medical instrument that allows healthcare professionals to better see the outer and middle portions of the ear.

An otoscope is most commonly used to look inside the ear to look for ear wax buildup, signs of ear infection, and diagnose other issues. In young children and infants, an otoscope can diagnose issues that the child can not vocalize what is bothering them, as in the case of a baby with an ear infection. In adults, an otoscope can confirm symptoms and help the doctor understand how to treat your ears.

This instrument is used by a wide range of medical professionals, including your general physician. It is used at routine checkups to make sure that all is well and looks healthy in your ears. If you visit your physician or an ear doctor with complaints about ear pain or discomfort, and otoscope is likely the first instrument that will be used to look at your ears.

Instruments to Remove Ear Wax

There are a couple of common instruments that ear doctors use to remove ear wax in their office. For most cases of ear wax buildup or blockages, patients will be sent home with an at-home ear wax removal kit. However, some tools are needed for severe cases in which ear wax cannot be removed at home with a kit.


A curette is a long, skinny instrument with a small scoop on the tips that can fit inside the ear canal. Curettes are used to gently scoop ear wax out of the ear and is handy when ears are especially compacted with ear wax.

Many people are a little scared to think of a doctor putting this device inside of their ear, but rest assured that doctors are professionals and the last they they want to do is damage your ear or hurt you. A curette is always used with the utmost caution in the doctor’s hands.

Ear irrigator

Irrigation is used by many professionals to clear built up ear wax and debris from the ears. The most common use for an irrigator is to flush out ear wax. A bulb syringe can be used at home to irrigate the ears.

In the office, ear doctors often have a slightly stronger irrigator that allows a solution to flow through the ears a bit more. The solution used is generally a medication that softens ear wax so that it can be removed easily.

There is not need to be afraid of the instruments that your ear doctor uses. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the instruments used in the office so that you have an understanding of what your doctor plans to use and why.