Common Types of Ear Infections in Adults

ear-infectionAn ear infection occurs when a bacterial or viral infection affects the middle ear, the sections of your ear just behind the eardrum. Ear infections can be painful because of inflammation and fluid build up in the middle ear.

Ear infections can be chronic or acute. Acute ear infections are painful but short in duration. Chronic ear infections do not clear up, or they recur many times. Chronic ear infections can cause permanent damage to the middle and inner ear.

Types Of Infections

There are two types of ear infection that develops in adults and may include:

• Outer ear infections: This type of ear infection is more common among swimmers and hence known as swimmer’s ear or otitis externa. It is the painful condition caused by infection of the outer ear. While swimming the polluted water gets trapped into the ear along with bacteria and other microorganisms and cause infection. This type of ear infection is more common in adults.

• Acute middle ear infections: This type of ear infection is more common in children due to, smaller eustachian tube size due to which draining out the pus becomes difficult. It is also called as otitis media.


Symptoms of middle ear infections in adults can often include:
• Ear pain
• Fever
• Fluid draining from the ear, indicating rupture of the eardrum
• Pressure in the ear or a feeling of fullness
• Loss of hearing
• Loss of balance


Risk factors for the development of otitis media in adults include:
• Allergies
• Sinusitis
• Viral infections
• Smoking
• Air travel

Most cases of otitis media in adults can be treated with antibiotics, with or without oral steroids. Adults who have frequent middle ear infections should seek the assistance of an experienced ear, nose, and throat specialist.

For the adult with recurrent ear infections due to nasal and sinus disease, we may recommend endoscopic sinus surgery, an operation designed to remove nasal polyps, often with correction of a deviated nasal septum.

Contact Us
For more information, contact Ear, Nose & Throat of Fairfield at 203-259-4700.

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