Adult ear infection: What are the ideal treatment options?

An adult ear infection is managed in the same manner as ear infections among children. An infection in the ear develops once the middle ear is inflamed, disrupting the normal ability of the ear to drain fluid. This fluid accumulates in the ear which promotes the growth of bacteria or viruses.

Home management for an adult ear infection

Generally, an adult ear infection naturally settles as the body fights the infection. If suffering from an infection, the individual is encouraged to take time to rest and increase the intake of fluids to keep the body hydrated.

  • Sleep a minimum of 8 hours a night and take naps if tired.
  • Clear fluids should be taken such as water, warm herbal tea and fruit juice. Avoid alcohol, coffee and soda products.
  • For pain relief, apply a warm cloth over the affected ear. Re-wet the cloth once the warmth lessens.

    Pain medications work by reducing the ear pain and even fever at the same time.

Over-the-counter measures

The commonly used over-the-counter drugs given for an adult ear infection include pain medications and antihistamines.

  • Antihistamines lessens the amount of fluid in the ear. Remember that some variants can cause drowsiness which should not be used while driving or operating heavy equipment.
  • Pain medications work by reducing the ear pain and even fever at the same time. Acetaminophen can also be given to manage the pain from an ear infection.

Prescription drugs

The widely used medical treatment for an adult ear infection involves antibiotics. These drugs are only effective if the infection is brought about by bacteria. In case the symptoms do not settle within 3 days of starting antibiotics, the doctor should be informed.

Surgical intervention might be necessary if an adult ear infection results to a ruptured eardrum or impaired ear tubes. Nevertheless, surgery is rarely required for an adult ear infection.

In case there is drainage of blood or pus from the ear, it might be an indication of a more complex issue that requires prompt assessment by the doctor.


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