The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Most middle ear infections can be diagnosed by looking into the ear with a lighted instrument, called an otoscope.
The doctor will see if there is fluid or pus behind the eardrum. A small tube and bulb may be attached to the otoscope. This is to blow a light puff of air into the ear. The puff helps the doctor see if the eardrum is moving normally.
Other tests may include:
- Tympanocentesis—used to drain fluid or pus from the middle ear using a needle, also used to check for bacteria
- Tympanometry—measures pressure in the middle ear and responsiveness of the eardrum, also used to check for fluid or pus
- Hearing test —may be done if you have had many ear infections