Even though ear infections are more common in younger children than in adults, grown-ups are still at risk of developing this infection. However, unlike infections in children, which are typically minor and pass rather quickly, an adult ear infection are usually the sign of a more serious health condition.
If you are an adult and you have an ear infection, you need to pay close attention to the symptoms you have, and schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Symptoms of Ear Infections
There are three different, main types of ear infections you may develop. Each one pertains to one of the three main parts of your ear, which include inner, middle and outer.
If you suffer an inner ear infection, it may be the case of inflammation, rather than a real infection. Some of the most common symptoms of this condition, besides ear pain include:
If you have inner ear problems, it may be the signs of a condition that is much more serious, like meningitis, which is why you should schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.
The middle ear is directly behind your eardrum. An infection in this area is also referred to as otitis media. It results from fluid getting trapped behind your eardrum, which results in the eardrum bulging. In addition to an earache, you may feel like there is a fullness in your ear and experience fluid drainage from the ear that is affected. In some cases, Otitis may come with a fever and you may not be able to hear well until the infection begins to clear.
The outer portion of the ear is the area that extends away from the eardrum to the outer portion of your head. This type of infection is also called as otitis externa. This usually begins as an itchy rash and as it progresses, some of the other symptoms that you experience include swollen, red, tender and painful ear.
Risk Factors for Developing Ear Infections
One of the main reasons that kids are more likely to suffer an ear infection than adults is that their Eustachian tubes are much smaller and also more horizontal than the tubes of the majority of adults. If you are an adult that has smaller Eustachian tubes or if your tubes have not developed a slope, then you are going to be at a higher risk of getting an ear infection.
If you are around cigarette smoke or secondhand smoke regularly, you will also be more likely to get an ear infection. Seasonal allergies or allergies year-round is also a risk factor, along with developing a cold or any respiratory infection.
When you are seeking treatment for your ear infection, it will depend on what part of the ear is affected. In some cases with outer and middle ear infections, you will need to take antibiotics.
When you see your doctor, they may prescribe you antibiotics. These can usually be taken orally, but you may also be given medication to be applied right to the area that is affected. You may also take medications for pain, such as pain relievers that can be purchased over the counter. This will help reduce the pain associated with this type of infection.
If you still experience allergy or cold symptoms after antibiotics, your doctor may also suggest that you take an antihistamine, nasal steroids or a decongestant. Another technique that may be helpful is referred to as autoinsufflation. This helps you in clearing your Eustachian tubes. This is done by squeezing your nose to close it, closing your mouth and then exhaling gently. This will send the air through the Eustachian tubes and help to drain them of any accumulated fluid.
If you have an outer ear infection, then it should be cleaned carefully. This needs to be followed with the application of an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial medication on to your ear. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the infection is caused by bacteria.
If you are suffering from a viral infection, then you may just need to tend to the irritation present in your ear and then allow the infection to clear up. In some cases, depending on the virus causing the infection, a more specialized treatment may be required.
Prevention Can Go a Long Way
Ear infections can be frustrating, painful and difficult to overcome without help from your doctor. If you want to help prevent the development of future infections do the following:
- Make sure your ears remain clean by washing them and using cotton swabs carefully. Also, always dry the inner and outer part of your ears completely after you take a shower or swim.
- Stop smoking and try to avoid being in contact with second hand smoke as much as possible.
- Make sure to manage your allergies by avoiding all triggers and keeping up with taking your allergy medications.
- Always wash your hands well and avoid anyone who is suffering from a cold or other type of upper respiratory problem.
- Ensure your vaccines are always up to date.
Regardless of if you experience ear infections on a regular basis or if you are experiencing your first one, scheduling an appointment with your doctor is a smart move. They can determine the part of your ear that is affected and determine what type of treatment is necessary.
If you need more information about ear infection treatment or want to schedule an appointment, you can visit the Dr. Light E.N.T website or you can give the staff a call at 561-737-8584. You can find out more information about these infections and what you need to do to protect yourself and get the treatment to solve the issue.