If you’re an adult with an ear infection, you might be surprised you have it. After all, we usually conditions as only affecting children. But they do happen at any age, and while they’re rarely dangerous, they are painful.
At Central Maine Healthcare, our highly skilled ENTs can help you find relief. We provide a full range of treatment options, from medications to tube insertion (tympanostomy), a highly common, safe and reliable procedure for patients of all ages.
Symptoms of a Chronic Ear Infection
The clearest sign, in both children and adults, is a feeling of pressure in the ear. If you feel that pressure and it lasts for more than a few days, or if it repeatedly disappears and returns, you could have a chronic ear infection. Other symptoms may include:
- Mild ear pain
- Low fever
- Hearing loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Fluid leaking out of ears
Most of these symptoms could indicate other illnesses, so it’s a good idea to see an ENT specialist whenever any of them persist.
Where Ear Infections Live
Your infection might be in your inner ear, middle ear or outer ear.
An infection in the inner ear could be more serious, because it sometimes is a symptom of meningitis, an inflammation that can lead to serious or life-threatening complications.
The middle ear, the space behind your eardrum, is where ear infections happen most frequently. A small canal called a Eustachian tube connects your middle ear to your throat and nasal canal, and if that gets blocked by inflammation and fluid build-up, often from a cold, the ear infection sets in.
Outer ear infections, sometimes called “swimmer’s ear,” are rarely serious but they still can be uncomfortable. They occur when water pools in your ear after swimming or bathing. Bacteria can breed in the water, causing an infection.
Treating Persistent Problems
For ear infections that are short-lived and relatively mild, home remedies, like ear drops or holding a warm or cool washcloth to your ear, may help.
When the infection lingers, your Central Maine ENT may prescribe an antibiotic, or recommend a minimally invasive tube insertion. In the procedure, your doctor inserts tiny tubes into your eardrums so that air can flow into the middle ear again. It only takes about 30 minutes for both ears, and is seen as the gold standard for relieving chronic ear infections. For children especially, tubes not only help reduce chronic ear infections, but may also eliminate hearing loss, speech development problems or other complications due to fluid build-up.