Middle Ear Infections in Adults

Middle ear infections can also occur in adults, although the infection is far more common in children. Similar to children, there are three main types of middle ear infections in adults. These infections occur when the middle ear becomes inflamed, typically because a bacterial or viral infection, or an allergic irritation, causes fluid to build up behind the eardrum.

Symptoms

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

Causes

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 such as Dr. Rejowski.

Treatment

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

In severe cases of otitis media, the mastoid bone can become infected as well. A mastoidectomy would be indicated to open the mastoid bone and drain the infection if there was not a proper response to intravenous antibiotic therapy.

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