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Kristin Hayes, R.N.

Improvements in Diagnosing Fluid in the Ear

By February 9, 2010

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My daughter didn't walk until she was two and a half years old. We were of course aware that fluid in the ear could cause this but despite having her tested multiple times by her regular pediatrician and by audiologists (who used tympanometry incorrectly) the problem was missed. It was actually a fluke that she was diagnosed at all. After being treated with ear tubes and an adenoidectomy she started walking a week later.

Unfortunately fluid in the ear (also called serous otitis media, otitis media with effusion, OME) often goes undiagnosed. An article appearing in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology details the results of a recent study which tested the most accurate methods for diagnosing fluid in the ear. The results showed that Otomicroscopy is the most accurate method of diagnosing fluid in the ear. Otomicroscopy does require a skilled practitioner and many physicians are not trained to use this equipment. I would recommend that anyone who suspects that there is fluid in their child's ear to see an ENT specialist as OME is difficult to diagnose and is often missed by regular pediatricians.

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