When my daughter (4 years old, now) gets congested from a cold, she sometimes ends up with an ear infection. But she never complains about her ears bothering her until it gets really bad so, by time we bring her to a doctor, she has a "nasty bulging infection" (doctor's words).

I would like to check routinely throughout a cold to see if infection is setting in. I look in her ear and it looks pretty much... like an ear. Does anybody know any home-grown techniques for checking for an ear infection? I'm sure doctor-dad could improvise (or buy) an otoscope but would I see anything I recognize?

asked 30 Oct '09, 18:04

rcartaino's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 19 Jan '10, 17:11

Don't bother looking. Our pediatrician told us that to quickly check for an ear infection we should face our daughter and lightly grab hold of both ears. If this gentle touching results in any pain, there is a good chance of an ear infection.


answered 31 Oct '09, 02:53

Phil's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%


Hard to pick an answer to accept because all posts had good information. I picked this one because, ultimately, this is probably the most practical solution... and it made me laugh.

(01 Nov '09, 00:56) rcartaino

Ear infections can spring up very quickly. We had the same situation with our son, and we mentioned that we felt guilty for not having brought him in earlier. The doctor told us that we could check his ear and see nothing but check again a half-hour later and see it bulging.

As for what to look for, I'm afraid I don't know - I'm no doctor either. Of course, even if you can see something, you need to go to the doctor for an antibiotic prescription anyway.

FYI if the doctor says that the eardrum has ruptured, don't panic like we did thinking your child is going to have permanent hearing loss. Our doctor told us that unless the eardrum is rupturing frequently, the eardrum will heal just fine with no permanent damage.


answered 30 Oct '09, 18:27

Graeme's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

It is possible to buy an otoscope for home use, and you should then be able to see the ear drum. Whether you'd be able to recognise an infection then I wouldn't know.


answered 30 Oct '09, 19:17

Meg%20Stephenson's gravatar image

Meg Stephenson
accept rate: 7%

This otoscope popped up as a popular choice, too: http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Slimline-Stainless-Otoscope-Pocket/dp/B000J1FT4W/ref=pd_sim_hpc_9

(30 Oct '09, 23:04) rcartaino

Wow, interesting that it's a popular choice. I would like to suggest a general caution to this. Non-medical field parents should definitely research how to hold it properly because you could easily damage an infant's ear if not supported/held properly. I've had training and let me just say it is not an easy thing to use on a child that is wiggily (with hurting ears) AND because you are looking for just the right thing (cone of light) which is not necessairaly an easy thing to see if not practiced.

(01 Nov '09, 22:18) Sabrina

Usually when your child has an ear infection, there will be a fever and she will be pulling or playing with her ears. My daughter had a couple ear infections and we picked up on them fairly quickly because that was the only time she would play with her ears. That would catch our attention, then we would check for a fever and then get her to the doctor fairly early.


answered 30 Oct '09, 19:25

mkcoehoorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%

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Asked: 30 Oct '09, 18:04

Seen: 3,801 times

Last updated: 19 Jan '10, 17:11