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Diagram showing the tympanometry process on the ear

A Guide to Tympanometry

What is tympanometry?

Tympanometry along with examining the ear helps doctors to diagnose and monitor problems in the middle ear (located behind the ear drum). It measures the movement of your ear drum in response to changes in pressure.


Why is Tympanometry performed?

Tympanometry helps with diagnosis of disorders that can lead to hearing loss, particularly in children.

The ear drum is a thin tissue that separates the middle and outer segments of the ear. The results are recorded on a graph called a tympanogram.

The test helps to determine if you have:

Tympanometry may be conducted often to confirm how much fluid builds up in the middle ear over time.


What’s the Tympanometry process?

You can’t move, speak, or swallow as it will create in an inaccurate result. However it only takes a minute or two for both ears so it’ll be over before you know it!

Firstly, your ear will be examined with an otoscope or microscope to ensure your ears are clear of earwax or other foreign objects.

Next, they’ll place a probe-type device into the canal, this can often be slightly uncomfortable and loud during the measuring process.

Lastly, the air pressure in your ear will be manipulated to make the eardrum move back and forth. Measurements of the movement of your eardrum are recorded in a tympanogram.


Getting prepared for Tympanometry

Ensure you visit the Ear Cleaning Clinic to have the excess wax removed from your ears to allow for an accurate test result.

This may also eliminate other external issues such as:

  • temporary hearing loss
  • itching or pain in the ears
  • blocked ears after swimming or showering
  • outer ear infections
  • weeping ears
  • dizziness

Having the ears suctioned is far more efficient than syringing (water method) as it is extremely through and gentle. The nurse has a clear view into the ear canal; therefore she can remove all of the ear wax and debris, they can also examine your ear canal to help diagnose the abnormal ear condition.

Closeup of a male patient's ear receiving microsuction

What does it mean if my tympanometry test results are normal?

  • The middle ear doesn’t contain fluid
  • The eardrum moves normally
  • The middle ear pressure is normal
  • There’s normal movement of the small bones in the middle ear.


What if my tympanometry test results are abnormal?

Abnormal test results may mean there is:

  • fluid in the middle ear
  • perforation of the eardrum
  • scarring of the eardrum, which generally occurs from frequent ear infections
  • middle ear pressure beyond the normal range
  • growths in the middle ear
  • excess earwax
  • lack of mobility or other problems with the bones of the middle ear

copy of a medical chart showing tympanometry results

Overall, in most cases an abnormal tympanogram is die to fluid in the middle ear.


Need Expert Advice?

If your test results are persistently abnormal, or it is suspected that something other than fluid is behind the tympanic membrane, you may be referred to an ENT ear experts at Gold Coast for further testing and analysis.

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