Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery

Otitis Media (Middle Ear Infection) in Adults

otitis media is another name for a in-between ear infection. It means an infection behind your eardrum. This kind of ear infection can happen after any condition that keeps fluid from draining from the in-between auricle. These conditions include allergies, a cold, a afflictive throat, or a respiratory infection .
middle ear infections are common in children, but they can besides happen in adults. An ear infection in an adult may mean a more serious problem than in a child. So you may need extra tests. If you have an ear infection, you should see your healthcare supplier for discussion. If they happen repeatedly, you should see an ent man ( ear, nose, and throat specialist ) or an ear doctor ( ear subspecialist ) .

What are the types of middle ear infections?

Infections can affect the middle ear in several ways. They are :

  • Acute otitis media- This middle ear infection occurs suddenly. It causes swelling and redness. Fluid and pus become trapped under the eardrum (tympanic membrane). You can have a fever and ear pain.
  • Chronic otitis media- This is a middle ear infection that does not go away, or happens repeatedly, over months to years. The ear may drain (have liquid coming out of the ear canal). It can often be accompanied by a tympanic membrane perforation and hearing loss. Usually chronic otitis media is not painful.
  • Otitis media with effusion- Fluid (effusion) and mucus build up in the middle ear after an infection goes away. You may feel like your middle ear is full. This can continue for months and may affect your hearing. This is also sometimes called serous otitis media.
  • Chronic otitis media with effusion- Fluid (effusion) remains in the middle ear for a long time. Or it builds up again and again, even though there is no infection. It may also affect your hearing

Who is more likely to get a middle ear infection?

You are more likely to get an ear infection if you :

  • Smoke or are around someone who smokes
  • Have seasonal or year-round allergy symptoms
  • Have a cold or other upper respiratory infection

What causes a middle ear infection?

The middle ear connects to the throat by a canal called the eustachian tube. This pipe helps even out the pressure between the out auricle and the inner ear. A cold or allergy can irritate the tube or cause the area around it to swell. This can keep fluid from draining from the center ear. The fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Bacteria and viruses can grow in this fluid. The bacteria and viruses cause the middle ear infection .

What are the symptoms of a middle ear infection?

Common symptoms of a middle auricle infection in adults are :

  • Pain in 1 or both ears
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Muffled hearing
  • Sore throat 

You may besides have a fever. rarely, your balance can be affected .
These symptoms may be the lapp as for other conditions. It ’ randomness important to talk with your health worry provider if you think you have a middle ear contagion. If you have a high fever, severe pain behind your auricle, or paralysis in your face, see your provider ampere soon as you can .

How is a middle ear infection diagnosed?

Your health care provider will take a checkup history and do a physical examination. He or she will look at the out ear and eardrum with an otoscope or an otomicroscope. These are ignite tools that let your supplier interpret inside the auricle. A pneumatic otoscope blows a puff of air out into the auricle to check how well your eardrum moves. If your eardrum doesn ’ thyroxine move well, it may mean you have fluid behind it.

Your provider may besides do a test called tympanometry. This test tells how well the center ear is working. It can find any changes in pressure in the center ear. Your supplier may test your hearing with an audiogram ( hearing test ) or tuning fork .

How is a middle ear infection treated?

A center ear infection may be treated with :

  • Antibiotics, taken by mouth or as ear drops
  • Medication for pain
  • Decongestants, antihistamines, or nasal steroids
  • For chronic otitis media with effusion, an ear tube (tympanostomy tube) may help (see below)

Your health manage provider may besides have you try autoinsufflation. This helps adjust the air pressure in your ear. For this, you pinch your nozzle and gently exhale. This forces breeze back through the eustachian tube .
The accurate treatment for your ear contagion will depend on the type of infection you have. In general, if your symptoms don ’ metric ton get better in 48 to 72 hours, contact your health care supplier.

middle ear infections can cause long-run problems if not treated. They can lead to :

  • Infection in other parts of the head
  • Permanent hearing loss
  • Paralysis of a nerve in your face

occasionally, you may need CT scan or MRI to check for rare causes such as a cholesteatoma or tumors. If you have a middle ear infection that doesn ’ thyroxine have better, you should see an ear, nose, and throat specialist ( ent man ) or a speciate ear doctor .

Ear tubes

sometimes fluent stays in the middle ear even after you take antibiotics and the infection goes away. In this encase, your health manage provider may suggest that a small tube ( besides called a tympanostomy tube ) be placed in your ear. The tube is put at the opening of the eardrum. The pipe keeps fluid from building up and relieves atmospheric pressure in the middle auricle. It can besides help you hear better. This routine is sometimes called a myringotomy. It is done more normally in children but is besides performed in adults. In adults, it is a routine procedure that takes under 5 minutes in the office. The tubes normally fall out on their own after 6 months to a year. Ear tubes can be placed by an ent man or a specialize ear doctor .

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