Ear infection is the result of either an entry of some foreign body into the ear or an infection in any of the connected organs like a strep throat or a running nose. The common observation is that adults are less affected than children. It pays to be well informed and take preventive measures rather than allow neglect to result in ear problems and increased visits to the doctor.
Causes of Ear Infection in Adults
Ear infection in adults is mostly caused by an infection within the Eustachian tube. The tube is located near the inner ear and connects the organ to the nasal passages. The primary function is to drain fluid and equalize body pressure, outside and inside. The Eustachian tube gets infected easily when mucus builds up within. It pays well to invest in a good sinus infection treatment in time.
Another cause for ear infection is cold and flu. The resultant fluid build up and the accompanying infection in the Eustachian tube results in much discomfort and pain. The post-nasal drip that is associated with common cold also ends up as ear infection at times.
It is not necessary that a person needs to be sick to develop ear infection. Many a time, the infection is caused due to the strenuous blowing of mucous. The fluid gets into the Eustachian tube. Another associated and common cause for adult ear infection is neglecting to clean liquid out of the ear after a shower.
Most adult ear infections are caused due to viral infection. However, once diagnosed, the viral infections are difficult to treat and prolong in pain and discomfort.
Sign and Symptoms
The common signs of an ear infection are, pain and throbbing in the inner ear, a discharge of fluid or pus, reduced hearing or temporary hearing loss, loss of balance or dizziness, fever, cold, nausea and vomiting. The infection also causes the inner ear to swell, due to trapped fluid resulting in pressure and pain. In some cases, the adenoids also swell and the swelling blocks the ear. The result of the swelling and fluid retention is temporary hearing loss, although there is no actual damage to the inner ear.
Treating Ear Infection in Adults
Treatment of Bacterial Ear Infection
The main treatment in the case of adult ear infection is directed towards the removal of fluid and resultant swelling. In case of infection via bacteria, antibiotics are administered. Nevertheless, bacterial infections are simple to treat.
Treatment of Viral Ear Infection
Viral infections are slightly more complicated to treat than bacterial infections. Sometimes, they involve myringotomy. This is a minor surgery performed, where a small tube is inserted into the eardrum to relieve pressure and consequently, infection. The inserted tube also drains the fluid within and finally falls out automatically.
Treatment for Adenoid
If adenoids are the cause for fluid and swelling build up in the inner ear, they have to be removed. Adenoids, like tonsils are removed via surgery, without complications.
Prevention of Ear Infection
It is not difficult at all to prevent the onset of adult ear infection. There are a number of nasal sprays easily available in the market to flush out bacteria and pollutants responsible for the infection. These sprays are also effective in flushing out substances that cause allergies and naturally repelling bacteria. Chewing gum that contains Xylitol also helps to relieve inner pressure and prevent bacteria from moving up through the mouth and throat into the ear, via the nasal passages.
It is much better to educate yourself and take the necessary precautions than succumb to a nasty ear pain. Nevertheless, it is good to visit the ENT specialist if pain and discomfort persist. It is advisable to consult the doctor prior to self-medication. This would not only help you identify the real cause of the ear infection, but would also help you save on money and time.