Advertisement

How is acute otitis media diagnosed?

Acute otitis media is diagnosed by a physician using two main methods. When an ear infection is suspected, an otoscope, or instrument with a small light, is inserted into the ear canal. This lets the doctor see the eardrum. If it is swollen, there is fluid and/or mucus behind the eardrum and indicates an infection. A doctor may also use a pneumatic otoscope to force a light puff of air onto the eardrum. Fluid behind the eardrum prevents it from moving as much as if there were no fluid there.

Tympanometry is another test for otitis media. A physician places a small plug into the ear canal. The plug changes the air pressure in the canal and also emits tones. By measuring how the eardrum reacts to the tones and air pressure changes, the doctor can evaluate the condition of a person's middle ear.

Acoustic reflectometry involves projecting sounds into the ear. The sounds have different frequencies and can help the doctor determine the amount of fluid in the ear.

Continue Learning about Ear Disorders

Essential Facts About Ear Infections
Essential Facts About Ear Infections
While ear infections tend to affect kids—5 out of 6 children will experience this condition by the time they’re 3 years old—adults are not immune. And...
Read More
What can cause bleeding from the ears?
National Athletic Trainers' AssociationNational Athletic Trainers' Association
A ruptured eardrum, foreign objects in the ear, and infections can cause bleeding of the ear. Other ...
More Answers
How can I prevent an ear infection?
Intermountain HealthcareIntermountain Healthcare
To help prevent ear infections: Wash your hands often and have your children do so too. You can cl...
More Answers
All About Ear Infections
All About Ear Infections

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.