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A health care professional usually diagnoses the cause of an earache by talking to the patient, parent, or caregiver (taking history) and performing a physical examination. In general, X-rays and other tests are unnecessary.
The health care professional often uses an otoscope to look into the ear canal to evaluate the canal and the ear drum.
The health care professional also may evaluate other parts of the body including the throat (looking for sore throat or tonsillitis), the neck (feeling for swollen lymph nodes and assessing stiffness), and the lungs (looking for signs of pneumonia). This is especially important if the earache persists and there is no apparent reason for ear pain on examination. Referral to an ear, nose, and throat specialist may be necessary to evaluate the structures deeper in the thraot with an endoscope (flexible camera) or a mirror.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/23/2015
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