Your doctor will ask about ear pain, any discharge from the ear and fever. He or she will examine the ears with an otoscope - an instrument with a lighted, cone shaped end piece for looking in the ear canal at the eardrum. The doctor will look for redness and bulging of the eardrum, and will check to see if it moves normally by blowing a puff of air through the otoscope (eardrums do not move if they are too stiff or if there is fluid behind them.)Your doctor may also perform an audiogram to check for hearing problems, or a tympanogram that measures how the eardrum moves.
Symptoms of otitis media usually improve in 48-72 hours, but the fluid that has built up in the middle ear may last for up to three months.