How is a middle ear infection diagnosed?

Examining an ear with an otoscope

An otoscope can be used to look for signs of inflammation and infection in the ear. Image: Ronald Sumners /

Your doctor might ask a few questions about:

  • your or your child’s health (e.g. about a recent cold, throat or chest infection)
  • the symptoms (e.g. ear ache)
  • any medicines that have been taken
  • any other medical conditions that you or your child may have.

Your doctor will examine the ears to look for signs of infection or inflammation (a bulging red or cloudy eardrum) using an otoscope (also called an auriscope). An otoscope is a medical device with a small light on the end that is used to look inside the ears.

Find out more about the symptoms and treatments for a middle ear infection.