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Ear Infections in Adults Causes, Symptoms, Cures & Remedies for Outer, Middle and Inner Ear

Are you an adult with ear infection problems or complications i.e. ear infection in adult problem? What causes ear infections or problems in adults? How can ear infection symptoms in adults help me know if I have an ear infection? Learn about outer, middle and inner symptoms of ear infection in adults, what treatment, medicines or cure for adults to use. We also have more on acute and chronic infections associated with the ear.

What causes an ear infection in adults?

While looking at causes of ear infections in adults, a breakdown of ear parts should be necessary for a better understanding, comparison and analysis i.e. outer, middle and inner ear infection causes. Of course, causes of ear infections in adults may vary depending on health conditions of an individual or nature of external environment at the point of occurrence, i.e. change in climate, altitude, previous condition or infection of a person, etc.

Ear infection in adults causes, treatments, remedies, chronic
Ear infection in adults causes, treatments, remedies, chronic

For instance, outer ear infections are more prevalent during warm weather and humid conditions. Any sort of ear problems could be in form of injury after fall, physical damage or certain surgical procedures operated on outer and inner ear.

Before we look at outer, middle ear and inner ear infection causes, treatments and medication in adults, let us look at the general symptoms of an infected ear in adults.

Common Ear Infection Symptoms in Adults– Outer, Middle & inner

Ear problems and infections tend to have signs and symptoms which cut across the outer, middle or inner ear. However, some may differ slightly as infection develops to advanced levels. There could also be different symptoms if the cause is not an illness.

What are common symptoms of ear infection in adults? According to Healthline the following are few symptoms shown.

  • A persistent feeling of pressure inside ears,
  • Mild pain,
  • Ear discharge or drainage (pus-like),
  • General problems in hearing or reduced hearing,

What to expect from symptoms of ear problems and infections

One of the things you must know is concerning the behavior of infection symptoms. Whether they are outer, middle or inner ear infection symptoms in adults – they come and go. Simple explanations dictate that reinfections possibly occur between the treatment lapses. Therefore you should seek medical assistance, diagnosis and go for consultation between the periods within which the symptoms reappear.

Ear Infection Treatment for Adults – Medicine, Cure, Drugs & Ear drops

Most adult ear infection treatment will depend on the cause or type of infection. More bacterial infections of the ear are treatable as well as those caused by fungus infection. The early the better because controlling the early symptoms of an ear infection in adults, children and small kids is made easier. However, curing or controlling illness caused by viruses is the most difficult. This is to say prevention should be a good thing if not the best. Let us look at the various medicines, drugs or solutions used for treatment.

Antibiotics for ear infections – Oral Drugs, Ear Drops or Medicines

To begin, this is the commonest means of cure for ear infection in adults or even young children who suffer from bacterial/fungal ear illness. A major category of the antibiotics is a drug group known as quinolone antibiotics (for bacterial infections only). Others are antibiotic ear drops and oral antibiotic OTC solutions, but prescription medicines are preferred. Doctors may advice patients not to overuse (esp. oral antibiotics) or use them for a prolonged period due to the side effects.

Relievers – OTC Ear Drops

Another category of medications include drugs, over the counter ear drops and solutions which are quite significant in clearing or treating the symptoms of ear infection in adults. Many of the symptoms, as we shall see, are problematic and almost unbearable. These medicines are meant for elevating the early signs and are safe to use. They include:

  1. Oral drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc. for reducing ear pain pressure.
  2. Topical anesthetic/pain relief ear drops for infections of outer, middle or inner ear. For example,

NOTE: To prevent drug abuse, overdose or complications of ear infection, antibiotics medicine for adults should NOT be used to treat similar diseases in children. Persistent side effects calls for discontinued use.

Causes of Outer Ear Infections, Symptoms in Adults, Medications and Cure

The outer ear structurally plus its anatomy mainly comprises the pinna (auricle) and the ear canal. As mentioned earlier infections of the outer ear are basically pathogenic. As you go through this section, get more information on outer ear infection symptoms in adults in addition to available treatments.

Otitis Externa or ‘Swimmers Ear’

Otitis externa is commonly known ear problems in adults or cause of outer ear infection in adults, e.g. young adults who love and cherish spending more time in water or swimming. What causes this swimmer’s ear are mainly Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Staphylococcus aureus bacteria strains or Aspergillus fungus; thus otitis externa is a fungal or bacterial ear infection. To illustrate this, after swimming some water is likely to be retained in the ear canal which can easily become a favourite habitant or breeding of bacteria that can easily invade and multiply.

Swimmer’s ear is non-contagious, but certain predisposing factors and certain conditions may trigger faster outer ear infection symptoms in adults. What are they?

  1. Scratching too often or use of ear phones, cotton swabs among other reasons that lead to raptured and damaged skin surface that lines the canal.
  2. Moreover, people who have long-standing cases of acne, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema or allergic conditions such as asthma are at risk of being infected.

The following are some of outer ear infection symptoms in adults and young people most complained about.

  • Adult ear pain, itching or heat,
  • Ear pain pressure,
  • Swelling and redness,
  • Scaly skin around or inside the ear canal,
  • Excessive fluid drainage,

Outer Ear Infection Treatment – Antibiotics

What drugs or antibiotics for ear infection in adults can be used to treat outer ear or swimmer’s ear? Ofloxacin solution is one of the effective outer ear infection treatment in adults found in pharmacists or over the counter.  It kills the bacteria and reduces dizziness but unfortunately, cannot be used to cure other ear viral infections or inner ear problems. You need to seek assistance from the relevant medical authorities for more information on how to use antibiotics and for how long and possible side effects such as irritation and allergy.

Auricular Chronditis or Perichondritis

According to WebMD, auricular chronditis is inflammation of the ear cartilage caused by bacterial infections, usually Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Staphylococcus aureus. Other reasons that account for it apart from bacteria are as follows:

  1. Upper ear piercings of the cartilage – the first primary inflammation roots from the damage but piercings easily would invite germs and bacteria leading to a severe infection symptoms of outer ear.
  2. Cuts or ear lacerations made on the ear cartilage,
  3. Surgical treatments involving otoplasty or pinnaplsty,
  4. Relapsing polychondritos of the cartilage.

Because this is an outer ear skin infection, telling the symptoms is quite easy. What normally is seen besides inflammation is swelling, ear flaking and pain, reddening of the cartilage, accompanied with pain.

Treatments – prescription antibiotics including Penicillin, Flucloxacillin or Amoxiclav, etc. to fight germs or anti-inflammatory corticosteroids.

– oral drug medications such as Ciprofloxacin,

– systemic injection of Tricarcillin.


This is yet another outer fungal ear infection of the canal. Unless the fungus begins to reproduce it would be hard to realize such a problem, because of the saprophytic feeding relationship.

Accumulation of Earwax

If your ear produces more earwax you need to get it removed. Besides being a big threat to ear blockage of the canal, presence of excessive earwax predisposes it to disease causing microorganisms, germs or bacterial infections.

Middle Ear infection Symptoms in Adults – Signs, Causes Medicines and Treatments

An infection or adult middle ear infection could be caused by illness such as cold, flu or allergy, viral or bacterial infections. Although they are common in children, middle ear infection in adults can also occur.


This is a bacterial infection of the middle ear bone known as mastoid bone. Caused by untreated middle ear infections in adults, damage the mastoid cells whose function is to maintain air space in the middle ear. After they are infected, persistent inflammation takes place causing mastoid porous bone to break down, or disintegrate.

Blocked ear Eustachian tubes

What causes mastoiditis? If your Eustachian tube is blocked, your ear(s) will not be functioning well. The eardrum may collapse because ear pressure is not balanced with air pressure.


Another cause of mastoiditis is cholesteatoma: “an abnormal collection of skin cells inside your ear.” [www.nhs.uk] is mastoiditis a severe ear infection in adults? Now, if it goes untreated, the skin continues to grow causing damage to the ossicles (ear bones) and this leads to hearing loss, tinnitus or can destroy facial nerves. Other serious and fatal effects include blood clotting, brain abscesses or develop meningitis.

Generally, the following middle ear infection symptoms in adults are attributed to mastoiditis:

  • Smelly ear discharge,
  • Redness and tenderness behind the infected ears
  • Swelling and pain behind ear,
  • High fever and headache,

How can you be treated of Masoiditis?

As an adult middle ear infection, this is amongst the dangerous diseases that require an urgent treatment. One of the common adult ear infection treatment is using antibiotic eardrops for middle ear or medicine prescribed by your doctor or Otolaryngologist. For the antibiotics to be a significant curing method, you will be forced to visit your hospital that provide the services to administer venous injections.

Secondly, patiently may do ear popping devices and prescription steroids to kill pain and reduce swelling.

Thirdly, if the above middle ear infection symptoms in adults become severe (chronic), then a surgery is necessary depending on your capacity to qualify as a candidate after a comprehensive diagnosis on health conditions. This surgery, also known as myringotomy, is required in order to remove accumulated skin growths or draining out the middle ear. Another surgical option is to remove part of or the infected mastoid bone which is referred to as mastoidectomy.

For quicker recovery and to avoid recurring ear infections in adults, patients are advised to observe after-care routines that involve maintaining hygiene, making visits for clinical check-ups and keep away from moist conditions.

Other Causes of Middle Ear Infections in Adults

Many ear problems in adults are also contributed by certain conditions of the middle ear which may have signs similar to symptoms of infected middle ear adults suffer from.

Glue Ear Otitis media

One of the non-infection conditions responsible for ear problems (middle) is Otitis media which is simply “inflammation and fluid build in the middle ear.” [www.mayoclinic.org].

The underlying cause of otitis media can be dysfunction or non-infectious blocked Eustachian tubes. Mayo Clinic asserts that, it occurs after treatment or infections have cleared.

What are the symptoms of middle ear problem symptoms? Whether they are infectious or non-infectious, some of common signs are seen in children with a few middle ear infection symptoms in adults.

  • Earache and pain,
  • Uncomforted and difficulty sleeping,
  • High irritability,
  • Hearing difficulty ,
  • Loss of balance,
  • Higher fever or high body temperatures,
  • Fluid draining or effusion from ear – usually clear, yellowish to blood-red in colour,
  • Reduced desire for food/loss of appetite,
  • (With Effusion)

From the outlined symptoms, adults commonly complain over earache, pains, diminished hearing and ear drainage. If you may require eardrops for middle ear infections you may ask medical professionals for the right ones.

Sinus Infections (Sinusitis)

Can sinus infections be a cause of middle ear infection for adults? Yes. Even though it is a respiratory illness, the bacteria, viruses or fungi that grow in the nose sinus cavities may migrate to the middle ear “because the middle ear is connected to the upper respiratory tract by a tiny channel known as the Eustachian tube.” [www.webmd.com]. Sinus infections may become acute or chronic ear infections.

Can Smoking Tobacco trigger sinus infections?

Tobacco smokers are also at a higher risk of sinus infections because it damages cilia that cleans the nose hence “increased infections of the lungs and the sinuses.” Katheleen L. Yaremchuk, MD.

Adenoiditis – Swollen or Infected Adenoids

If you have a sore throat, infection of the tonsils and adenoids is possible. Adenoids and tonsils play a greater role in filtering out harmful germs that get through your mouth or nose. Adenoids become inflamed and swollen.

Victims of adenoiditis (have): – swollen lymph nodes or glands in the neck,

  • difficulty in breathing through the nose,
  • suffer from ear pain.

When sinusitis becomes an ear problem in adults, earaches may result, but nasal obstruction, fever, headaches, bad breath, sore throat are observed in people with acute or chronic sinusitis.

Now, because this can cause blockage of Eustachian tube or blocked ears, treating either acute or chronic sinusitis is the best solution. If medicines known as decongestants are used to cure acute or chronic sinusitis, they should not be used for more than five days, or in accordance with pharmacist’s advice. For chronic sinusitis, a warm nasal compress, sprays or saline nose drops for adults which can be bought as over the counter non-prescriptions. Other adult ear infection treatments are prescription antibiotics or oral steroids.

Inner ear Infections in adults, Causes, Symptoms & treatments – Therapy and Medications

The inner ear structure which consists of the labyrinth (fluid-filled structures), performs hearing function and maintaining balance. What causes inner ear infection in adults?

Labyrinthitis ear infection in adults

One cause of inner ear infection in adults is labrinthitis. This refers to the inflammation of the labyrinth (comprises the cochlea and fluid filled vestibular tubes), a condition that mostly occurs after a viral infection of the middle ear. It may also be due to physical damage and at times bacterial infection. The common viruses are those responsible for cold and flu of the upper respiratory system. Other possible viral inner ear infection causes include measles, mumps and grandular fever.

What are the common symptoms of inner ear infection in adults? The first major signs are dizziness, which has a spinning or whirling feeling. The other symptoms include:

  • Temporary hearing loss,
  • Tinnitus – a ‘ringing sound’ from within your ears.

Is labyrinthitis treatable? If this condition results from a bacterial infection, your Otolaryngologist will prescribe antibiotics for inner ear infection. Labyrinthits may go away on its own depending on your sustainability of immune system. However, persistence of the inflammation symptoms will eventually lead to a serious and symptomatic condition known as vertigo (a feeling that you or objects around you are in motion).

Most viral infections causing inner ear infections in adults are the most difficulty to cure. Why? One, it is situated in most delicate part of head. Two, they are complicated implying that medicine for ear infection in adults lack.

Vestibular Neuritis or Neuronitis

Another infection of the inner ear is vestibular neuritis which causes inflammation of the vestibular organs (semicircular canals, utricle and saccule). Just like labyrinthitis, this infection may be caused by either a virus or may result from bacterial infections. However, vestibular ganglion, head injury, chronic stress or allergy may be associated with vestibular neuronitis.

What are the vestibular neuritis signs or symptoms? Apart from dizziness, others are: vertigo, rapid eye motions (nystagmus), nausea, anxiety, general loss of body balance, etc.

The first simple strategies which include physical therapy and anxiety disorder therapies are fundamental at tackling this inner ear infection symptoms especially in adults. During the therapy periods patients are instructed by physicians to make constant head and eye movements while keeping the eyes fixed to a focused target image.

According to Wikipedia some common Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy are namely:

  1. Gaze stability exercises,
  2. Habituation exercises,
  3. Functional retraining e.g. posture exercises, relaxation and balance training.

Other treatments used to suppress its symptoms include Cinnarizine, Diazepam which must be prescribed.

Acoustic Neuroma or Vestibular Schwannoma –

Thirdly, a vestibular disorder caused by overproduction of Schwann cells causes “slow-growing tumor that develops from the balance and hearing nerves.”[vestibular.org].

During its development stages, the tumour grows and extends towards the hearing nerves, causing a lot damage to the inner ear and facial (tregimenal) nerves. At that point the symp This disorder is symptomatic of the following:

  • Loss of balance,
  • One-sided hearing or unilateral hearing loss,
  • Facial numbness and paralysis.

In order to help treat acoustic neuroma, early diagnosis is important due to difficulty in identifying the signs of this inner ear infection.

Can I get the tumor removal?  A major treatment involves surgical removal if the tumour has not grown very large since medicine for ear infection in adults is rare. However, if that is the case then one may require a radio therapy which utilizes gamma rays to reduce to reduce tumor’s size and limit its growth at the same time allowing for hearing.

Prevention and Ear infection in adults & Home remedies for adults 390

How do you prevent ear infections or what are ear infection remedies for adults? First, is very important to consider this because some ear problems in adults are not easily curable, for instance viral ear infection symptoms are not curable. Here are some of the measures to be keen on, what to take for ear infection and what to avoid:

  1. Immunizations and vaccinations to prevent seasonal bacterial diseases with pneumococcal vaccines especially at a young age.
  2. Practice, observe and maintain high hygiene especially of the hands, face and the ears.
  • Get rid of second-hand smoke from other people near you so as to reduce chances of ear infections.
  1. Avoid prolonged use of antibiotics which may be a reason for a recurring ear infection in adults.
  2. Something else to stay or keep yourself away from overcrowded places,
  3. A regular healthy diet plays a pivotal role. So ensure that you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. You can also include probiotics that contain natural bacteria found in some yoghurts or acidophilus drugs.

Second, you can control cases of mild infection symptoms with these home remedies and herbal tips.

Heat Compress

  1. Warm some water and then soak a clean wash cloth such as a face towel.
  2. Remove excess water by wringing or squeezing it.
  3. Press-hold against the infected ear until the heat subsides.
  4. Repeat the process to help get rid of adult ear pain If the conditions don’t improve make an appointment with a doctor.

Olive Oil

You can have a second chance of dealing with symptoms like earache pains if you can try this simple outer ear home remedy.

  • Heat little amount of olive oil.
  • Let it warm if it you feel much heat.
  • With aid from someone get two or three drops into the ear infected, letting it soak for roughly 30 minutes.
  • Tilt your head so as to allow it drain out. If both are affected follow the same procedure for each.

Garlic Steam

This procedure could be simple but a great herbal remedy to ease earache and ear pain pressure.

  • Break a clove of garlic and put it in steaming hot water.
  • Bend over then position your head to let the steam get into that infected ear for as long as you can.


Crush some basil to extract it juice. Apply it around the outside ear to kill pain and earache or let some get into the canal.

What Causes Severe, Acute and Chronic Ear Infections in Adults?

In summary, what brings about chronic infections of the ear especially the inner ear, are severe viral, bacterial or severe damages after physical injuries e.g. head injury from falling. A chronic infection may be due to an acute ear infection whose symptoms never disappear completely.

If acute and chronic ear infections affect the middle or the inner ear most likely it is due to chronic sinusitis, Mastoiditis, Labyrinthits or Vestibular neuritis.

For example, experiencing severe ear infection in adults is an indication of severe damage of the vestibular system. On the other side, during the acute stage or onset of sudden symptoms, patients may require an emergency treatment because of unbearable suffering – dizziness, dehydration and nausea, which must not be neglected.

Complications, Treatments and Therapy

Are there consequences of severe ear infection in adults? Be keen to contact your medical doctor if there arises additional symptoms during treatment. If not treated, chronic and acute ear infections may cause secondary dizziness, paralysis of your face, inflammation in the brain or abscess, or permanent hearing loss.

Treating chronic ear infections in adults include: eardrum surgery, mastoidectomy and vestibular rehabilitation therapy under supervision of doctor’s instructions, tests and advice. This therapy allows for the brain to gradually adapt to induced signals. Acute or chronic cases of adult ear infections, treatments and all related complications should be handled by a professional.

Reference and Sources
  1. Ear Infection (middle ear): http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ear-infections/basics/symptoms/con-20014260
  1. Infections of the inner Ear: http://vestibular.org/labyrinthitis-and-vestibular-neuritis
  1. Labyrinthitis: http://www.webmd.boots.com/a-to-z-guides/labyrinthitis
  1. Cholesteatoma: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/cholesteatoma/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  1. Labyrinthitis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinthitis#cite_note-16
  1. Acoustic Neuroma: http://vestibular.org/acoustic-neuroma
  1. Earache: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Earache/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  1. http://www.medicinenet.com/ofloxacin-ear_solution/article.htm
  1. How to Cure an Ear Infection: http://www.wikihow.com/Cure-an-Ear-Infection
  1. Otitis externa – Causes: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Otitis-externa/Pages/Causes.aspx
  1. Otitis externa – symptoms: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Otitis-externa/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
  1. Ear Infections: http://www.healthline.com/health/ear-infections#Overview1
  1. Sinus infection: http://www.webmd.com/allergies/sinusitis-and-sinus-infection?page=2
  1. Auricular chronditis: Inflammation if ear cartilage: http://www.webmd.boots.com/a-to-z-guides/auricular-chronditis. Medically reviewed by Dr. Rob Hicks on June 17, 2014
  1. Mastoiditis: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mastoiditis/Pages/Introduction.aspx Reviewed on Nov 11 2016.

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