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Ear Infections: Adults Get Them Too

A slight ache on the side of your head, loss of hearing, and excruciating ear pain are all signs that point to an ear infection.

Ear infections are a common condition in childhood, but they also occur frequently in adults too. At SCENT - Southern California Ear, Nose, and Throat, the experienced ENT specialists treat ear infections in kids of all ages, as well as adults. The focus on restoring your hearing, reducing pain, and protecting the overall health of your ear.

Why you have an ear infection

There are several types of ear infections that affect both kids and adults. One of the most common is otitis media, or middle ear infection. This kind of infection develops in the area behind your eardrum and is usually caused by trapped bacteria or virus.

Otitis externa is an outer ear infection that develops primarily in adults. This type of infection occurs when germs spread inside the warm, moist environment of your ear canal. You can also develop this type of ear infection by sticking Q-tips or other objects into your ear.

Infections in the inner ear are the least common type of infection. Interestingly, rather than being a true infection, this condition usually refers to inflammation in the inner ear. An inner ear infection affects the parts of your ear responsible for balance, which can cause you to feel dizzy or nauseous. 

Adults are kids are susceptible to ear infections during cold and flu season or anytime they have an upper respiratory illness like bronchitis or a throat or sinus infection. The infection is more likely because your respiratory and sinus passages are connected to the passageways in your ears.

Pay attention to ear infection symptoms

Depending on which type of ear infection you have, your symptoms can vary. Generally, an ear infection can feel like your ear is plugged or that you’re underwater. Infections can also trigger symptoms like: 

As your body fights back against the infection, you may also feel persistent fatigue or develop a fever.

It’s important that you see treatment for a suspected ear infection as soon as you notice symptoms to prevent a worsening of your condition. Treatment also prevents the spread of infection to other parts of your body.

Understanding your options for treating an ear infection

Treatment for ear infections depends on the cause. For instance, if your infection is the result of a virus, it may need to run its course without treatment, or you may need antiviral medications to heal properly.

If your infection is the result of a bacterial or fungal infection, the providers at SCENT – Southern California Ear, Nose, and Throat may prescribe antibacterial or antifungal medications to kill the source of the infection. Many medications are available in drop form that you put directly into your ear.

When you have recurrent ear infections, even as an adult, you may be a candidate for ear tubes to help drain away excess fluids and prevent a new infection. This type of treatment requires a minor surgery to place the tubes inside your ear. Tubes tend to last for 2-3 years and typically fall out on their own without the need for a follow-up procedure.

If you have pain or pressure in your ear and suspect an ear infection, call the SCENT – Southern California Ear, Nose, and Throat nearest you to schedule a diagnostic evaluation. You can also request an appointment with the ENT specialists online today.

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