Ear infections are more likely to happen to children than adults, but when it happens to adults, the infection can be more severe and possibly lead to hearing loss if left untreated. Middle and outer ear infections are more common and have various treatment options; if you suspect you have one, here are the tell-tale signs of an ear infection in adults.
Middle Ear Infections
Symptoms of middle ear infections can include inflammation of the ear, muffled hearing, pain and sensitivity to touch, fever, dizziness, headache, and nausea. In severe cases, discharge like pus or blood can drain from the infected ear. Discharge is a sign of a ruptured eardrum and needs immediate medical attention.
Causes of a middle ear infection are generally germs or viruses. They can back up behind the eardrum from the mouth, nose, or eyes. Therefore, sinus and respiratory infections can spread from the throat and nose to the ear through the eustachian tubes, narrow passages that control the pressure in the ear. If the pressure becomes great enough, the eardrum can burst.
Outer Ear Infections
Outer ear infections are less inflicting than middle ear infections, but can be painful and show redness and swelling. They typically extend from the outer ear to the eardrum. Causes are typically irritation or germs from foreign objects like earbuds or earplugs. One should always make sure in-ear objects are clean and to avoid putting dirty fingers in the ear. Nevertheless, one can use various treatment options to deal with an ear infection.
Experts do not recommend using antibiotics for some middle and outer ear infections. The treatment will ultimately depend on the type of infection it is. One can use pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol for reducing pain and inflammation, or decongestants and allergy medicines like Sudafed or Benadryl to relieve pressure. These medications, however, will not treat the infection.
Unless the eardrum is ruptured, one can use home remedies or prescription ear drops to cleanse the ears and promote healing. One can also use a warm compress against the ear to reduce pressure and pain. Usually, ear infections in adults are minor and go away by themselves, but these treatments can hasten the healing.
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