When You See Red on Ear Exams

If a child is screaming when you examine his or her ears, the tympanic membrane is likely to be red, which can make diagnosing otitis media difficult.

If a child is screaming when you examine his or her ears, the tympanic membrane is likely to be red, which can make diagnosing otitis media difficult. To minimize crying, tell the patient that the examination might tickle and to let you know whether it tickles too much, since you don't want him to laugh so hard that he falls off the table. This allays the child's fears and gives him a sense of control; it can also minimize the prescription of unnecessary antibiotics.

-Richard B. Levin, MD
  Van Nuys, Calif