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Otology History

As with all specialities a concise yet thorough history is paramount to ensure that no important information is missed. The format you have learned from day one enables this, however, taking a focused speciality history  requires specific closed questions.


There are five main otological symptoms to consider when taking an otological history:


1. Otalgia (ear pain)


S ite (Where does the pain originate. Is it definitely the ear?)

O nset (When did the pain start? Gradual or sudden)

C haracter (What is the pain like? sharp, dull, stabbing)

R adiation (Does the pain radiate anywhere?)

A ssociations (Any other symptoms associated with the pain – e.g. headaches?)

T ime course (Does the pain follow a pattern?)

E xacerbating/relieving factors

S everity         


2. Otorrhoea (ear discharge)


  • Colour

  • Contains mucus?

  • Offensive smelling

  • Volume +/- bleeding


3. Hearing loss


  • Duration

  • Side

  • Fluctuation

  • Onset

  • Frequency


4. Tinnitus


  • Pulsatile

  • Buzzing / hissing

  • Side (one side or both?)

  • Impact on life (sleep, concentration, irritability)


5. Vertigo / imbalance

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