Though adults are not affected as frequently as children, it is important for adults to be aware of how adult ear infection can affect them. Adult ear infection is caused by infection in the Eustachian tube, near the inner ear. The Eustachian tube connects the inner ear to the nasal passages in order to drain fluid from the ears and equalize pressure between outside and inside of the body, but when fluid or mucous builds up in the Eustachian tube, it is an easy target for infection.
There are many situations in which adult ear infection can surface. A cold can cause fluid build up and infection in the Eustachian tube. Post nasal drip may also contribute. An adult does not necessarily need to be sick to get adult ear infection. Often, the infection is caused by mucous being blown into the Eustachian tubes by blowing the nose or failing to clean the liquid out of the ear with a cotton swab after showering.
In one of every four cases in children, ear infection is not caused by a bacterial infection but by a viral infection. Viruses often cause adult ear infection as well. Viral infections are much more difficult to eliminate.
Adult Ear Infection Complications
However adult ear infections are contracted there are complications to be aware of. If these complications are caught early, the infection can be more easily dealt with. Complications associated with adult ear infection include fluid in the ear, pressure, and pain.
Part of the reason for the pressure and pain is that the tissue in the inner ear swells due to infection or trapped fluid. Often, the adenoids also swell due to infection. The swelling pushes into the ear.
Other complications include temporary hearing loss. The sound is obstructed due to the swelling, but no damage is actually done to the inner ear when the infection is treated. Even after the pressure is relieved and the infection has subsided, fluid may build up permanently in parts of the ear.
Adult Ear Infection Treatments
Whether bacterial or viral, adult ear infection may be treated and any buildup removed. With bacterial infections, antibiotics are necessary. Fortunately, bacterial infections can be very simple to treat.
Viral infections are more complicated to treat and may necessitate a myringotomy, which is a minor surgery in which a small plastic tube is inserted into the eardrum. This acts as a vent to relieve the pressure of the buildup or infection. It also drains the fluid remaining in the ear. This little tube is not permanent; it falls out automatically after a short time.
If the adenoids have caused the build up and the infections in the ear, they may need to be removed. They are just like tonsils in that they aren't necessary and can easily be removed without complications.
Adult Ear Infection Prevention
Prevention of adult ear infection is simple. Nasal spray flushes out bacteria and pollutants which could cause build up and infection. Even allergens can be washed out. The important element necessary in effective nasal spray is Xylitol, which naturally repels bacteria before it has a chance to settle into the nasal tissue.
Chewing gum containing Xylitol may also loosen and relieve pressure in the ear while at the same time releasing Xylitol into the mouth and throat and preventing bacteria to move up to the nasal passages and into the ear. Studies have proven the use of Xylitol-rich gum reduces the risk of ear infection.
Adult Ear Infection Treatment
Did You Know?
Moisture trapped in the ear is normally the catalyst for ear infection. The ear is connected to the nose by what is know as the Eustachian tube and it's role is to drain fluid. It also acts to maintain pressure inside the ear at the correct equalibrium. When the fluid isn't draining effectively or correct pressure is not maintained then ear infection can be the result. Simply blowing the nose can force mucus into the Eustachian tube resulting in build up which in turn can create an atmosphere for bacterial growth to occur.
Symptoms Of Adult Ear Infection
Obviously pain and discomfort are the obvious symptoms. Other symptoms to be aware of include hearing loss,blockage, fluid in the ear, dizziness and fever. Hearing loss can occur because of the build up in the ear as well as the swelling of the adenoids. Adenoids are the glands or lymphoid tissue situated in the throat below the nose.
Treating Adult Ear Infection
Depending on whether the infection is bacterial or viral, treatment is usually effective. However, viral infections are much more difficult to treat and in some instances could require minor surgery. Pressure build up is simply relieved by the placement of a tube in the ear drum with the good news being it is not a permanent insertion.
Bacterial infection is much easier to treat. Your doctor will usually prescribe a course of antibiotics which could last up to 10 days. It's interesting to note that in Europe, anti biotics are prescribed a little more conservatively because of the increase in anti biotic resistance worldwide. If you are concerned about this then discuss it with your doctor.
Preventing Adult Ear Infection
Preventative methods typically range from flushing the ear to chewing gum. Yes, chewing gum is recommended as it is known to help relieve pressure in the ear as well as creating good saliva flow. Chewing gum usually works a treat during plane flights when ears are affected during the landing procedure in particular.
Nasal spray can flush out any pollutants; triggers for bacterial infection and build up. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment as you should consider a spray which also has the qualities of preventing or repelling bacteria in the first place.
One thing you should be careful of doing is using cotton buds in your ears on a daily basis. This is a practice usually frowned upon and again, if you are concerned with ear cleanliness, your doctor will be able to advise the best course of action to take. In most cases, a simple flush will usually suffice.
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