Why Some Adults Still Get Ear Infections

You might think of ear infections as a childhood problem. Most children experience an ear infection at some point during their childhood, but ear infections aren’t limited to children. 

Not only do adults get ear infections, but some adults also experience recurrent ear infections. Ear infections aren’t as common in adults as in children, so you may wonder how or why adults still get ear infections.

If you’re an adult with an ear infection, visit an ear, nose, and throat doctor. Our team at Southern ENT provides a full range of comprehensive care, including head and neck surgery.

How do adults get ear infections?

Bacteria or viruses that infect the middle ear are the most common cause of ear infections in adults. Chronic allergies can cause inflammation that prevents fluid from draining from the middle ear, which is behind your eardrum. Bacteria can grow in the fluid and cause an infection.

In some cases, an adult ear infection may be a sign of a more serious problem. People with a compromised immune system and adults with diabetes are more likely to develop ear infections. Chronic skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis also raise the risk of ear infections.

If you have an ear infection, see a health care provider for evaluation and to rule out something more serious. Tell your doctor if this is the first ear infection you’ve had in a while or if you’ve experienced recurrent ear infections.

Signs of an ear infection

If you recognize the signs and symptoms of an ear infection, give us a call. Some of the most common symptoms to watch out for are:

In some cases, your balance may be affected. Seek immediate medical attention if you have a high fever or severe pain.

How is an ear infection treated?

Treatment for an ear infection in adults varies depending on the results of your evaluation. We can use antibiotics to treat ear infections caused by bacteria, while viral infections clear up as the virus passes. 

If you have allergies, we may prescribe antihistamines or decongestants.

Over-the-counter pain relievers can be helpful in managing pain. During your examination, we may order tests to look for bacteria or a CT scan to find out if the infection has spread beyond the middle ear.

In some cases, infections that are left untreated can lead to serious problems such as hearing loss. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to drain fluid from the ear or repair affected areas of the ear. This can help reduce recurrent ear infections.

When to see a professional

Because ear infections are less common in adults, it’s wise to see a health care provider when you get an ear infection. A comprehensive evaluation provides valuable insight into the problem, and if there is an underlying issue, such as an allergy, we discuss your treatment options.


Southern ENT is a premier provider of ear, nose, and throat services in southern Louisiana. To schedule a visit with one of our top-quality providers, call us to get started. Our offices are located in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, and Youngsville, Louisiana.

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