Diagnosis of Ear Disorders
The first step to check for ear disorders is through a physical assessment of the ear. Hearing tests are also conducted to determine loss of hearing and balance problems.
Many ear conditions are diagnosed using an otoscope, a lighted instrument that provides a view inside the ears, specifically the ear canal and eardrum. This method allows the ear specialist to check for wax or fluid buildup, injuries, infections and inflammations. In some cases, a pneumatic otoscope is used, in which air is blown against the tympanic membrane to check for mobility in the presence of pressures.
Similarly, examinations such as tympanometry and acoustic reflectometry are conducted to measure movement in the eardrum. Little to no movement in the eardrum when pressure or sound is applied may indicate a perforation, fluid accumulation in the middle ear, infections or structural problems.
Rarely, the ear doctor would perform a tympanocentesis in which a tiny cannula is used to pierce the eardrum and drain the fluid from the middle ear. The extracted fluid will also undergo further testing to accurately determine the type of infection and how to effectively treat it.