Ear Infections: Adults Get Them Too

Ear Infections: Adults Get Them Too

Your ear hurts. It’s stopped up as well; you can’t hear clearly. Could you have an ear infection? You may have thought those only occurred in children. However, adults get ear infections too. 

Dr. Nilesh Patel, our experienced ear, nose, and throat specialist and otolaryngologist, can diagnose your ear problem, tell you whether you have an ear infection, and provide prompt treatment. 

Ear infections need specialized treatment. Left untreated, middle ear infections can lead to debilitating conditions including lasting hearing loss, a spread of the infection to your head, or nerve paralysis in your face.

Middle ear infections 

Middle ear infections, or otitis media, are the most common type of ear infection. The infection is located behind your eardrum. It can cause pain in one or both ears. Your hearing may be affected. You could have drainage coming from the ear. You may have a sore throat. 

If the infection is acute, your ear may be swollen and red. If you have otitis media with effusion, you have fluid build-up even after the infection is gone. Your ear may feel full and your hearing is diminished. 

Causes of a middle ear infection

If you have one or more environmental allergy symptoms — think ragweed in the fall, trees or grasses in the spring and summer, or mold in the fall — you’re more prone to middle ear infections. If you’ve caught a cold or have another upper respiratory infection, your middle ear could get infected as well. Smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke can also trigger this type of infection.

Treatment of a middle ear infection

Dr. Patel may prescribe an oral antibiotic or antibiotic ear drops. If you have allergy or cold symptoms, he may recommend a decongestant, antihistamine, or a nasal steroid. 

Additionally, he may recommend a tip: pinch your nose and then exhale multiple times during the day. It helps move air into your blocked eustachian tube. 

Outer ear infections

If you’re a water lover, you may sustain an outer ear infection. Like a middle ear infection, you likely have pain in your ear, your ear is stopped up, and you may have drainage from the ear. It may also look red and feel hot. 

Causes of an outer ear infection

The nonmedical term for an outer ear infection is swimmer’s ear. That’s because it results from moisture in the outer ear — the area from the opening of the ear through the ear canal that leads to your eardrum. 

If you swim regularly or engage in other water sports, you’re at a higher risk of an outer ear infection. You can also sustain one by rubbing the opening to your ear with your fingers and introducing bacteria that can multiply and move inside your ear. 

Treatment of an outer ear infection 

Dr. Patel cleans your ear thoroughly and applies antibacterial medication. You may need an oral antibiotic. If you have a fungal infection, he prescribes appropriate antifungal medication. Most viral infections will resolve on their own; you need to keep the ear clean and avoid touching it with your fingers. 

Call Dr. Patel at either of his two convenient Midtown locations, or request a same-day appointment online for expert treatment of all your ear, nose, and throat concerns.

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