What is an Adult Ear Infection?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2019
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An adult ear infection is an ear infection that occurs in an adult. Although ear infections are usually diseases of childhood, adults can get them too, and adults are at risk of the same complications children are, including the rare potential for hearing loss. It is advisable to get treatment for an ear infection at any age and in cases where people experience recurrent ear infections, further evaluation may be needed to learn more about why the patient is developing repeat infections so the issue can be addressed.

The infection starts in the eustachian tube, a duct designed to allow for drainage from the ears. If the tube becomes blocked, it can get inflamed and infected, and an infection develops in the middle ear as fluid has nowhere to go. People with colds and post nasal drip sometimes develop adult ear infections. They can also develop viral and bacterial infections, just like children.

An adult ear infection usually causes pain and discomfort in the ear. Sometimes the pressure can become extreme and may be associated with a headache. Fevers can occur as well, depending on the causes of the infection, and the patient may feel generally unwell. Often, the blockage in the ear interferes with hearing. Sound can seem like it is being heard underwater or at a great distance.


Sometimes, an adult ear infection will clear up independently. The patient may feel uncomfortable and can experience some temporary hearing loss for several days while the body fights the infection. In other cases, an infection can become severe. There is a risk of perforation of the ear drum, along with other problems. As in children, the primary line of treatment for an adult ear infection is medication, such as antibiotics, to kill the organisms in the ear. Surgery may be performed to drain the ear, and if the eardrum is ruptured, a repair can be performed. People with chronic infections might be offered surgery to create a new site for drainage from the ear.

An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist can evaluate a patient with a suspected adult ear infection. The doctor can examine the patient, recommend treatment options, and follow up after the infection to confirm successful resolution of the problem. Patients with recurrent ear infections should receive a thorough examination to learn more about the origins of the repeat infections and explore some preventative measures to limit the potential for infections in the future.



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Post 1

And sometimes, it's much worse than just an infection. Sometimes, it can get away from the person, or a doctor doesn't catch the seriousness of it. This happened to a friend of mine. She was taking aquatherapy classes and got an ear infection from her ear being in the water so much. She saw a doctor, who prescribed drops. They didn't do much good. Now she has something uber nasty called Malignant Otits Externa. The doctor scraped all these polyps out of her ear and is pumping her full of antibiotics.

She's hoping at this point the infection has not progressed into the basal bone of her skull. So see a doctor if your ear hurts more than a day or two. Just see them -- and if you don't get relief, keep seeing people until you do get some help.

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