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Ear Infections - Exams and Tests

Middle ear infections are usually diagnosed using a health history, a physical exam, and an ear exam.

The doctor uses a pneumatic otoscope to look at the eardrum for signs of an ear infection or fluid buildup. For example, the doctor can see if the eardrum moves freely when the pneumatic otoscope pushes air into the ear.

Recommended Related to Ear Infection

Understanding Swimmer's Ear -- Prevention

These tips may help you avoid getting swimmer's ear: Be careful when cleaning your ears. Most doctors advise against using cotton swabs unless you're using it to clean the outside of the ear. Instead, wipe the outer ear with a clean washcloth. Do not dig into the ear canal, and never use a pointed object. Scratching the skin of the ear canal can let germs get in under the skin and cause infection. Avoid earplugs, if possible. These can irritate the ear canal. After swimming, tilt and shake...

Read the Understanding Swimmer's Ear -- Prevention article > >

Other tests may include:

  • Tympanometry, which measures how the eardrum responds to a change of air pressure inside the ear.
  • Hearing tests. These tests are recommended for children who have had fluid in one or both ears (otitis media with effusion) for a total of 3 months. The tests may be done sooner if hearing loss is suspected.
  • Tympanocentesis. This test can remove fluid if it has stayed behind the eardrum (chronic otitis media with effusion) or if infection continues even with antibiotics.
  • Blood tests, which are done if there are signs of immune problems.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 10, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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