The medical term for eardrum is tympanic membrane. Located just behind your eardrum is your middle ear. The eustachian tube in the middle ear drains fluid and equalizes air pressure. This allows the eardrum to vibrate and send nerve messages to the brain that are interpreted into sound.
You may experience other symptoms depending on the cause of your earache. Infections or injury may cause a decrease in hearing, dizziness, and impaired balance. You may develop ringing in the ear, called tinnitus.
Your ear will be examined with an otoscope. An otoscope is a lighted device with a magnifying glass. If pus is present, it will be tested to determine what type of infection it is. A hearing test may be recommended for children with repeated ear infections.
Tests may be conducted to check for fluid in the middle ear. A pneumatic otoscope delivers a puff of air inside the ear while the doctor checks if the eardrum moves or not. Fluid in the middle ear will prevent the eardrum from moving. Tympanometry is another test to measure eardrum movement based on changes in air pressure. Acoustic reflectometry uses sound frequencies to provoke eardrum movement.
Am I at RiskMiddle ear infections have a tendency to develop after a cold, sinusitis, or allergies. Outer ear infections tend to develop after swimming in polluted water. Pressure changes associated with flying or diving increase the risk of earache.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.