Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media) in Adults
What is a middle ear infection?
A middle ear infection occurs
behind the eardrum. It is most often caused by a virus or bacteria. Most kids have at
least one middle ear infection by the time they are 3 years old. But adults can also get
What causes middle ear infections?
Inflammation in the middle ear most often starts after you’ve had a sore throat, cold, or other upper respiratory problem. The infection spreads to the middle ear and causes fluid buildup behind the eardrum.
What are the symptoms of a middle ear infection?
These are the most common symptoms
of middle ear infections in adults:
- Ear pain
- Feeling of fullness in the hear
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Hearing loss
These symptoms may look like other conditions or health problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is a middle ear infection diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will
review your health history and do a physical exam. He or she will check the outer ear
and the eardrum using an otoscope. The otoscope is a lighted tool that lets the
healthcare provider see inside the ear. A pneumatic otoscope blows a puff of air into
the ear to test eardrum movement. When there is fluid or infection in the middle ear,
movement is decreased.
Your provider may also do a tympanometry. This is a test that directs air and sound to the middle ear.
If you have ear infections often, your healthcare provider may suggest having a hearing test.