Ear infections can affect the outer, middle, or inner ear, and they are most often caused by bacteria or viruses. Patients with this condition may experience an accumulation of fluid near the eardrum, which can cause swelling, moderate to severe pain, and drainage from the ear. Children with this condition may develop a fever, and headaches, loss of appetite, and fussiness are common. Both children and adults with ear infections typically have some degree of hearing loss, and an ear infection can increase the risk of a ruptured eardrum.
Children under three years old are particularly susceptible to ear infections, and patients with weakened immune systems are also at an elevated risk. If left untreated, ear infections can lead to permanent hearing loss, mastoiditis, or tearing of the eardrum. Infants and children who have repeated ear infections might experience developmental delays.
A pneumatic otoscope is a diagnostic tool used to determine if an individual has otitis media. This diagnostic examination procedure is commonly referred to as a pneumatic otoscopy. The tool includes a pneumatic head, and some practitioners also use a surgical head. The pneumatic head includes an enclosed light source, lens, and a nipple that allows for tubing and a rubber bulb to be attached. The design allows for a speculum to be fitted into the patient's external auditory canal, which produces an airtight chamber.
When the tool's rubber bulb is gently squeezed and released in rapid succession, the practitioner can observe the degree of the eardrum's response to negative and positive pressure changes. Otitis media is the name for a group of diseases that cause inflammation of the middle ear. Two of the most common types are otitis media with effusion and acute otitis media. Acute otitis media is a type of infection that tends to come on with ear pain.