Middle Ear Testing
Tympanometry is a diagnostic test used to assess the condition of the middle ear and the mobility of the eardrum (tympanic membrane) in response to changes in air pressure. It is performed to gather information about the health and function of the middle ear, which includes the eardrum and the three small bones (ossicles) that transmit sound vibrations to the inner ear.
Tympanometry involves the use of a device that generates varying levels of air pressure within the ear canal while measuring the resulting movement of the eardrum. This test provides valuable insight for further patient management and referral, as it assesses:
Middle Ear Health: Tympanometry helps identify problems such as fluid accumulation in the middle ear (as seen in conditions like otitis media with effusion), ear infections, and other issues that might affect the transmission of sound.
The test measures the compliance (movability) of the eardrum at different pressure levels. A normal eardrum should move easily in response to changes in pressure. Reduced mobility can indicate issues such as a stiffened eardrum (as seen in otosclerosis) or a perforated eardrum.
Ear Canal and Pressure: Tympanometry also provides information about the condition of the ear canal and whether there are any obstructions or abnormalities that could affect hearing or the test results.
Ossicular Chain Integrity:
The test indirectly provides information about the function of the ossicles, the tiny bones in the middle ear. Problems with the ossicles can lead to hearing loss, and tympanometry can offer insights into their function.
Symptoms of Middle Ear Dysfunction
Middle ear dysfunction can lead to a variety of symptoms due to its role in transmitting sound from the outer ear to the inner ear. These symptoms can range from mild discomfort to more severe hearing issues. Here are some common symptoms of middle ear dysfunction:
Sensitivity to loud sounds
Ear Fullness or Pressure
Feeling of being under-water
Difficulty localising sounds