How Doctors Make An Ear Infection Diagnosis

How Doctors Make An Ear Infection Diagnosis

How Doctors Make An Ear Infection Diagnosis

Ear infection diagnosis is made by doctors according to several things.

What the patient says. Infection symptoms have usually come on over a few days. There may have been mild or intermittent symptoms for a long time but they have usually got worse recently. Words that a patient might use to describe the problem are likely to include itchy, sore, painful and problems with hearing. Pain may be severe and often is not improved much by over-the-counter painkillers. They may have a cold, blocked nose or have had ear infections before. Hearing might be reduced and sometimes ringing of the ear is noted.

Examination of the patient. The experienced doctor is likely to know whether or not you have an ear infection before he or she examines you, based on what you have told them. On examination they would expect to find redness and flaking of the ear canal and outer ear in otitis externa. This is an outer ear infection. There may also be some discharge although there is usually more with otitis media with eardrum perforation.

Otitis media is also known as middle ear infection. The doctor would expect to see some redness and inflammation of the canal but the main signs would be visible behind the drum. A fluid level may be seen and the drum may bulge outwards from the pressure of the fluid building up. The light reflex, or reflection, looks different. If there is a hole in the drum this may be visible. Sometimes it is hidden because part of the drum is not visible.

Observations. When a patient has their observations taken these may show signs of a severe infection. High pulse, high temperature and low blood pressure are all signs of sepsis. This is when infection affects the whole body with bacteria and inflammatory chemicals flowing round the body.

If you think you may have an ear infection make sure you visit your GP. This post is not a substitute for medical advice.

Dr Toby Bateson for