how to diagnose an ear infection

May 02,  · To help prevent an ear infection of any kind, follow these tips: Keep your ears clean by washing them and using a cotton swab carefully. Make sure you dry your ears completely after swimming or taking a shower. Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke as much as you can. Manage your allergies by Author: James Roland. Mar 07,  · Most mild ear infections clear up without intervention. Apply a warm cloth to the affected ear. Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Find ibuprofen or acetaminophen online. Use OTC .

Your doctor can usually diagnose an ear infection or another condition based on the sar you describe and an exam. The doctor will likely use a lighted instrument an otoscope to look at the ears, throat and nasal passage. He or she will also likely hoq to your what is a good body detox breathe with a stethoscope.

An instrument called a pneumatic otoscope is often the only specialized tool a doctor needs to diagnose an ear infection. This instrument enables the doctor to look in the ear and judge whether there is fluid infectipn the eardrum.

With the pneumatic otoscope, the doctor gently puffs air against the ead. Normally, this puff of air would cause the eardrum to move. If the middle ear is filled with diagnosd, your doctor will observe little to no movement of the eardrum. Your doctor may perform other tests if there is any doubt about a diagnosis, if the condition hasn't responded to previous treatments, or if there are other long-term or serious problems. Some ear infections resolve without antibiotic treatment.

What's best for your child depends on many factors, including your child's age and the severity of symptoms. Symptoms of ear infections usually improve within the first couple of days, and most infections clear up on their own within one to two weeks without any treatment. What can you do with an audio engineering degree evidence suggests that treatment with antibiotics might be helpful for certain children with ear infections.

On the other hand, using antibiotics too often can cause bacteria to become resistant to the medicine. Talk with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of using antibiotics. Your doctor will advise you on treatments to lessen pain from an ear infection. These may include the following:. After an initial observation period, your doctor may recommend antibiotic treatment for an ear infection in the following situations:. Children younger than 6 months of age with confirmed acute otitis media are more likely to be treated with antibiotics without the initial observational waiting time.

Even after symptoms have improved, be sure to use the antibiotic as directed. Failing to take all the medicine can lead to recurring infection and resistance of bacteria to antibiotic medications. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about what to do if you accidentally miss a dose. Ear tubes tympanostomy tubes, ventilation tubes, pressure equalization tubes are tiny cylinders, usually made of plastic or metal, that are surgically inserted into hos eardrum.

An ear tube creates an airway that ventilates the middle ear and prevents the accumulation of fluids behind the eardrum. If your child has certain conditions, your child's doctor may recommend a procedure to drain fluid from the middle ear. If your child has repeated, long-term ear infections chronic otitis media or continuous fluid buildup in the ear after an infection cleared up otitis media with effusionyour child's doctor may suggest this procedure. During an outpatient surgical hpw called a myringotomy, a surgeon creates a tiny hole in aer eardrum that enables him or her to suction fluids out of the middle ear.

A tiny tube tympanostomy tube is placed in the opening to help ventilate the middle ear and prevent the buildup of more fluids. Some tubes are intended to stay in place for six months to a year and then fall out on their own. Other tubes are designed to stay in longer and may need to be surgically removed. Chronic infection that results in a hole or tear in the eardrum — called chronic suppurative otitis media — is difficult to treat.

It's often treated with antibiotics administered as drops. You may receive instructions on how to suction fluids out through the ear canal before administering drops.

Children who have frequent infections or who have persistent fluid in the middle ear will need to be monitored closely. How to fix damp in a house to your doctor about how often you should schedule follow-up appointments. Your doctor may recommend regular hearing and language tests.

You'll likely begin by seeing your family doctor or your child's pediatrician. You may be referred to a specialist in ear, nose and throat ENT diagmose if the problem has persisted for some time, is not responding to treatment or has occurred frequently. If your child is old enough to respond, before your appointment talk to the child about questions the doctor may ask and be prepared to answer questions on behalf of your child.

Questions for adults will address most of the same issues. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission. Don't delay your care at Mayo Clinic Schedule your appointment now for safe in-person care. This content does not have an English version. This content does not have an Arabic version. Diagnosis Your doctor can usually diagnose an ear infection or another condition based on the symptoms you describe and an exam.

Tympanostomy tubes Open pop-up dialog box Close. Tympanostomy tubes Infectuon tubes tympanostomy tubes, ventilation tubes, pressure equalization tubes are tiny cylinders, usually made of plastic or metal, that are surgically inserted into the eardrum. More Information Ear tubes. Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. Share on: Facebook Twitter. Show references Ear infections in children. Accessed March 19, Acute otitis media. Rochester, Minn. Jameson JL, et al.

Sore throat, earache, and upper respiratory symptoms. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. New York, N. Otitis media acute. Merck Manual Professional Version. Accessed March 29, Lieberthal AS, et al. The diagnosis and management of acute otitis media. Kliegman RM, et al. Tonsils and adenoids. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.

Philadelphia, Pa. Kaur R, et al. Epidemiology of acute otitis media in the postpneumococcal conjugate vaccine era. Otitis media. Lalwani AK. Accessed Jan. Otitis media secretory. Ear tubes. Accessed March 18, Coleman A, et al. The unsolved problem of otitis media in indigenous diagnoes A systematic review of upper respiratory what is an ecumenical council of the catholic church middle ear microbiology in indigenous children with otitis media.

Rieu-Chevreau C, et al. Risk of occurrence and recurrence of otitis media with effusion in children suffering from cleft palate. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. Yang R, et al. Transtympanic delivery of local anesthetics for pain in acute otitis media. Molecular Pharmaceutics. Related Ear infection treatment: Do alternative therapies work? Associated Procedures Ear tubes. Mayo Clinic Marketplace Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.

Diagnosing an Ear Infection: Physical Exam The simplest way to detect an active infection in the middle ear is to look in the patient's ear with an otoscope (a light instrument that allows the physician to examine the outer ear and the eardrum). Inflammation of the eardrum indicates an . Jul 11,  · Ear Infection Home Treatments and Remedies. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) Applying a warm compress on the infected ear. Applying naturopathic ear drops with ginger, tea tree, or olive oil may help with pain and inflammation.

Actively scan device characteristics for identification. Use precise geolocation data. Select personalised content. Create a personalised content profile. Measure ad performance. Select basic ads. Create a personalised ads profile. Select personalised ads. Apply market research to generate audience insights. Measure content performance. Develop and improve products. List of Partners vendors. Properly diagnosing an ear infection , also known as acute otitis media AOM , shortens the duration of discomfort, is important to avoid overuse of antibiotics, and helps to prevent worsening infection.

Aside from a thorough health history, your physician will likely only need to use a pneumatic otoscope to diagnose an ear infection. Because young children can't always tell you what is wrong, finding out whether or not your child has an ear infection can be quite distressing as a parent.

Fortunately, a trained physician can usually identify an ear infection without much difficulty. Also note that even if you didn't have an ear infection as a child, you can still get one as an adult. You do not need to be a doctor in order to purchase the supplies needed to do an effective ear exam. However, it is not encouraged unless you know what you are doing, as there are subtleties to assessing the tympanic membrane as described below.

Children also are notorious for not being cooperative during an ear exam. Without proper equipment and technique, there is a risk of accidentally perforating the eardrum if you insert anything too far into the ear. However, there are companies that are making it easier for a quick check that you may find helpful before visiting your doctor.

There are some smartphone attachments that will allow you to visualize the ear canal and tympanic membrane. There have also been some devices developed that will try to provide a scale of the level of fluid behind your tympanic eardrum; though the accuracy seems to be questionable based on online reviews. During the visit with your doctor, it will be important for them to examine your ear. Otoscopy is an exam performed with an otoscope that will allow for the visualization of your external ear canal and your eardrum tympanic membrane.

While you can perform a basic assessment with a standard otoscope, it is best if your doctor has the pneumatic attachment for the otoscope. The pneumatic attachment is simply a rubber bulb that allows your doctor to apply light pressure to your tympanic membrane. Your physician will typically diagnose you with an ear infection if they see a bulging tympanic membrane. Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions. You will not need any imaging for a standard work-up of an ear infection.

However, if the infection is prolonged and your doctor is worried about other complications, they may order a CT scan or an MRI. A CT scan can be useful in seeing the structures, abscesses, or other abnormalities around your ear.

An MRI, on the other hand, is useful if your physician is concerned about any problems related to your brain. When assessing whether or not you have an ear infection, your doctor will try to differentiate if you have acute otitis media ear infection or otitis media with effusion OME, non-infected fluid in the ear.

Both can appear very similar. However, the position of the tympanic membrane is generally the tell-tale sign. Redness of your tympanic membrane without signs of fluid behind the eardrum is not caused by an ear infection. Your physician may also look at these common causes of redness around the tympanic membrane:.

Decreased Motion. Testing for mobility of the tympanic membrane is important for the identification of middle-ear effusion MEE - fluid in your middle ear. However, decreased mobility does not mean that the fluid in the middle ear is infected. Ear Pain.

Having ear pain is a common symptom of an ear infection. Because of the many different diagnoses that can occur with symptoms of an ear infection, it is always important to follow up with a physician for proper diagnosis. Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life.

Ponka D, Baddar F. Pneumatic otoscopy. Can Fam Physician. The diagnosis and management of acute otitis media. Otitis media: diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. Kashyap RC. Med J Armed Forces India. Your Privacy Rights. To change or withdraw your consent choices for VerywellHealth. At any time, you can update your settings through the "EU Privacy" link at the bottom of any page.

These choices will be signaled globally to our partners and will not affect browsing data. We and our partners process data to: Actively scan device characteristics for identification. I Accept Show Purposes. Table of Contents View All. Table of Contents. Self-Checks and At-Home Testing. Visual Examination. Differential Diagnoses. Next in Ear Infections Guide. Ear Infection Doctor Discussion Guide Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Download PDF. Email the Guide Send to yourself or a loved one. Sign Up. Other Possible Causes of Ear Pain. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What are your concerns? Article Sources. Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Acute otitis media in adults.

UpToDate website. Updated April 19, Acute otitis media in children: Diagnosis. Updated October 13, Related Articles. Anatomy of the Middle Ear. Outer Ear: Anatomy, Location, and Function. Anatomy of the Eardrum. A Quick Overview of the Anatomy of the Ossicles. Anatomy of the Stapes. What Is the Risk of Ear Cancer? Overview of Myringosclerosis and Tympanosclerosis. Malleus: Anatomy, Function, and Treatment. Types of Skin Cancer on the Ear.