The human body is prone to various kinds of diseases and the variety just keeps on increasing as we tend to grow old. The adults of today’s times are actually more vulnerable to these diseases because of the ever-growing quantity of pollution and other degrading quality of natural amenities from our environment. Such a widely recognized disease occurring in the man body is an ear infection. Although more prominent and widely occurring in children, it is also known to affect the adults equally if not more.
What actually is an ear infection?
The adult ear infection also biologically termed as Acute Otitis Media is, in reality, a viral or even bacterial infection that is known to affect the middle ear of adults. The most affected part of the middle ear is the air-filled region located behind the ear drum which houses the small bones of the ears which are prone to vibrations.A normal adult might as well experience severe pain due to ear infections because of the fluid buildups and inflammation in the middle ear and is often accompanied by flu or common cold or other infections of the respiratory system. The reason behind this is the presence of the Eustachian tube, the small channel that connects the middle ear to the upper respiratory tract. Germs in the sinus cavity or the nose can use this Tube to climb up to the middle ear and hence cause further infections.
A normal adult might as well experience severe pain due to ear infections because of the fluid buildups and inflammation in the middle ear and is often accompanied by flu or common cold or other infections of the respiratory system. The reason behind this is the presence of the Eustachian tube, the small channel that connects the middle ear to the upper respiratory tract. Germs in the sinus cavity or the nose can use this Tube to climb up to the middle ear and hence cause further infections.
Types of ear infection
Before learning about the types of ear infections we first need to go back to the biology books and learn about the structure of the adult ear. Better still, I will provide a brief description about the same. The adult human ear is divided into three main parts that are the inner ear, the middle ear and the outer ear. These three functions carry out their respective functions properly in order to maintain smooth functioning of the ear.
As the sound waves reach the human ear they travel via the outer ear into the middle ear where the vibrations are carried forward into the inner ear. Inside the inner ear, the sound waves are converted into electrical signals and hence transmitted to the brain for the purpose of deciphering. Now commonly the term ear infection can be referred to as the inflammation of the middle ear but often it is observed that the second type of ear infections affects the outer ear of the adults.
- Infections of the outer ear: – Commonly observed in swimmers this kind of ear infection are also known as Otitis externa and is associated with a lot of pain to the outer ear. This occurs when water gets trapped inside the ear while swimming and the bacteria and other harmful microorganisms cause an infection to the outer ear. This type of infections is more commonly seen in adults than in children.
- Middle ear infections: – As mentioned before this type of infections occurs in the middle ear and is affected largely due to the Eustachian tube. Known as Otitis Media, this is more common in children although it has been diagnosed in adults to a fairly large extent.
Symptoms of Ear Infection in Adults
When it comes to ear infection in adults the symptoms and signs of its onset are pretty rapid. That is why it is more easily diagnosable than most other diseases. The symptoms differ a lot from children and adults. Here as the article concerns ear infection in adults, we will be discussing the symptoms prevalent only in adults.
The common symptoms of ear infection are as follows:
- Ear infection in adults is initially noticed when the severe pain starts to occur in the ear. This pain can be of both of a continuous nature or it can start randomly.
- The severe pain in the ear can be accompanied by the diminished hearing ability. One will feel that he is gradually losing his ability to clearly hear words and certain sounds. He might hear the words said to him but might to clearly distinguish each word from the other.
- Sometimes in adults, ear infection also causes certain fluids such as pus to drain from the ear. The quantity of drainage varies on the basis of the severity of the infection.
- Sometimes the subject is likely to feel dizzy when affected with an ear infection.
- Redness of the ear accompanied by frequent itching might also be caused by the ear infection.
Ear infection and the complications it causes
Ear infection can harm the adult human body in a lot of ways. Although they are not known to have any complications that last for a long time, frequent infections to the ear and continuous fluid buildup can cause a lot of damage to the ear. The certain implications associated with ear infections are as follows.
- Hearing incapability: This is pretty obvious and has to happen in the case of an ear infection. The adult subject will gradually start to lose his or her hearing capability. But this is not a permanent loss but a temporary one. As soon as the infection is cleared the subject will regain his hearing impetus as before. But if the infection is persistent and fluids continue to accumulate in the middle ear, then hearing lo9ss might become permanent.
- The infection spreads: If the infection remains untreated for a considerable amount of time or if the infection fails to respond o the treatment provided then the infection is bound to spread in the tissues located nearby. For example, it can spread to the bony protrusion situated just behind the ear known as Mastoid. The infection is hence called mastoiditis and can seriously damage the bone. Very rarely ear infections are found to spread to parts of the brain and their membranes.
- Eardrum burst: Ear infection can sometimes cause to the tearing of the eardrum which in most cases heal within 3 days. Often in some cases, surgery is required to hear the eardrum tear.
Once you visit your doctor he or she will make a diagnosis generally based on the symptoms that you experience. He will use an Otoscope (an instrument using light) to look into your year, nasal passage and throat. Your breathing pattern might also play a significant part in the diagnosis. Other tests are also available if the basic checkups do not yield any benefit. Some of them are Tympanocentesis, Acoustic reflectometry and Tympanometry.
The treatment of the ear infection depends on a number of factors regarding the age and medical condition of the subject. In most cases, anti-bacterial medication yields results. Doctors will advise you to compress your ear with warm water to waiver the pain to an extent. Over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen usually do the trick in case of adult ear infections. For chronic infections, doctors often prescribe certain medicated drops for the ear.
Ear Infection in Adults Home Remedies
These types of infection in adults are mostly treated with antibiotics. Apart from antibiotics, several home remedies can be used for the treatment of ear infection in adults. They are as follows:
1. Olive oil
Olive oil for clearing the blockage caused due to wax in the ear: Slightly heat the olive oil and apply few drops to the infected ear. The infected wax gets soft and then you can clear the area with the help of cotton swabs.
It can be used as herbal treatment and are easily available. You have to simply cut the onions and microwave it for around two to three minutes. After that extract the juice from it and apply it to the infected ear. A few minutes later, just turn around your head so that the juice drains out.
3. Warm Water bottle
Water is easily and readily available. Water is an excellent pain reliever and also helps in the prevention of various infections caused by a micro-organism. You can use the warm water bottle to press against the ear.
Secondly, in a bowl of lukewarm water, dip a cloth, ring out the excess water and then use that cloth to dab the infected ear. Always remember that applying heat for a prolonged period can make situations worse. So keep a track of time say, five minutes and repeat the process every five minutes after waiting a while.
Like water, salt is also readily available. They are cheap and useful home remedy. What you have to do is simply heat a cup of salt in a pan. Apply low heat for few minutes. After heating is done, take the heated salt and place it over a piece of cloth and tie it. Place the cloth on the infected ear for about five to ten minutes. Repeating this process will help in drawing out the fluid thus giving a relief from pain and swelling of the ear.
5. Apple cider vinegar
Ear infection gives rise to fungus inside our ear. Apple cider vinegar can be effectively used to remove the fungus. In a bowl, take an equal amount of water and apple cider vinegar. Mix them properly. Then take a cotton ball and allow it to soak into the solution. After that put the cotton ball in the infected ear and lay down for five minutes. Now remove the cotton ball and turn around so that the solution drains out from the ear.
6. Basil leaves
These holy leaves are an excellent way to treat minor earaches and ear infection. Firstly, take few basil leaves and crush them. Apply the juice around the infected ear area. Keep in mind that you do not apply the juice inside the ear canal.
Secondly, in a bowl take equal amounts of coconut oil and juice of crushed basil leaves. Mix them properly and then dip a cotton ball in the mixture. Use that cotton ball to rub in and around the infected ear. Repeating the process twice on a daily basis can be very effective.
7. Garlic cloves
They are also readily available in the kitchen and it has certain antimicrobial properties. It acts as a natural pain reliever. Take two garlic cloves and cook them in mustard oil. As soon as they turn blackish, strain the solution. Apply few drops of the solution in the infected ear.
Alternatively, take few garlic cloves and boil them in water for five minutes. After boiling crushed the boiled garlic and apply salt to it. Take a clean cloth and put the mixture in it. Gently rub the cloth against the infected ear area.
Another effective use of garlic cloves is consuming raw garlic on a daily basis. The healing process automatically speeds up the healing process.