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Middle Ear Infection in Adults

Middle Ear Infection in Adults

Cases of middle ear infection are more common in children than in adults. The following article discusses the characteristic symptoms, causes, and treatment of otitis media in adults.
Rajib Singha
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
When it comes to kids, middle ear infection is the most common ailment after common cold. The reason behind the recurrence of this infection in children is the narrower size and horizontal position of their Eustachian tubes. However, some adults also suffer from this condition from time to time.
Clinically known as otitis media, it is caused when a virus or bacterium infects the middle ear, which is the part of ear that lies behind the eardrum, and contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. As it has been observed in many cases, this infection often follows a common cold. Also, the infection could be acute or recurring. The acute form refers to a sudden onset of the infection, but with a shorter duration. The recurring form, as the name suggests, means that the infection keeps coming back even post treatment. In case of a chronic infection, the symptoms last for a longer duration.
Symptoms
Symptoms indicative of an infection in the middle ear may include:
  • Pain that originates from the ear
  • Hearing may be affected to a point where the person is not able to hear anything
  • Fluid discharge (thick, yellow fluid) from the ear
  • Sore throat
Causes
The ear is connected to the throat with the help of a pair of narrow tubes known as Eustachian tubes. Conditions such as a common cold, flu, or allergy can cause these tubes to swell and get congested. With time, this swelling becomes so intense that the tubes get completely blocked, thereby causing fluid buildup the middle ear. This malfunction creates a perfect environment for pathogens to grow and multiply, thereby causing an infection.
Treatment
Though most cases of otitis media caused by viruses might resolve on their own, medical experts would usually recommend you to go for a wait-and-watch approach for about 3 days. If the symptoms do not resolve within this period, drug therapy might be necessary. Following certain home remedies might prove beneficial.
One helpful remedy to decrease the pain is by applying warm compresses to the affected ear. Dip a clean washcloth in warm water. Alternatively, placing the cloth against a heating source and applying it to the aching ear also helps. Over-the-counter medications can also help in case of adults. Using medicated ear drops that have been prescribed by the doctor will surely help alleviate the pain. Oral antibiotics or antibiotic ear drops are recommended when it comes to the treatment of the chronic form of this condition.
Middle ear infection can be easily prevented by follow proper personal hygiene and preventing such as common cold or flu. Equally important is to avoid smoking.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.