small child who is upset or crying may have red eardrums. It is easy to confuse
this redness with an ear infection.
What To Think About
Some home otoscopes use sound waves that bounce
off the eardrum to detect otitis media with
effusion (fluid in the middle ear).
Earwax (cerumen) is a normal protective secretion of the
ear canal. Earwax normally drains by itself, and cleaning the outside of the
ear is all that is necessary. Never clean your ear canals with cotton swabs,
hairpins, paper clips, or your fingernail, which may damage the canal or
eardrum and can push the wax farther into the canal. For information on how to
remove earwax, see the topic
Regardless of what you see with a otoscope, call your
doctor if you or your child has:
Severe ear pain, especially if your child has a
inability to move the muscles on one side of the face (facial nerve
Persistent ringing in one or both
Drainage from one or both ears.
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Pediatrics (2008). Recommendations for preventive pediatric health care. In Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, 3rd ed., p. 591. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics. Also available online: http://brightfutures.aap.org/pdfs/Guidelines_PDF/20-Appendices_PeriodicitySchedule.pdf.