What can you do for ear infections in adults?
Although ear infections are much more common in children, they occur in adults as well. Most can be treated with antibiotics, either by mouth, using ear drops, or both. Sometimes, just as in children, tiny ear tubes placed in the eardrum are needed to stop infections. Tubes in adults can almost always be placed in the office without need for general anesthesia (the procedure involves only minimal discomfort, and adults rarely get up and try to run away). Rarely, some infections will become bad enough to need more surgery than just a tube to drain the ear, clear the infection, and attempt to restore hearing.
What is “fluid on the ear”?
Fluid can accumulate in the space between the ear drum and inner ear and cause hearing loss and a sensation of fullness and pressure. Sometimes, people report hearing fluid “slosh around”. The fluid is usually a result of infection or of pressure changes from swimming or flying. Usually the fluid can be eliminated with medication or placement of a small tube in the ear drum.
Why do ear infections cause hearing loss?
The most common way ear infections cause hearing loss is related to the buildup of fluid in the ear. The fluid that develops in the ear as a result of the infection makes it much harder for sound to vibrate the eardrum. This hearing loss is usually reversible with removal of the fluid using medicine or a small ear tube in the eardrum. Sometimes though the infection can damage the eardrum, the tiny bones in the ear that carry sound from the eardrum to the inner ear, or the inner ear itself. These types of hearing losses are sometimes irreversible.
Why do my ears pop and click and sometimes hurt when I am flying?
The eardrum separates the outside world and its air pressure from what is called the middle ear space. Inside your head is a small passage from the back of the nose to the middle ear space called the Eustachian tube. Normally, this tube keeps the pressure inside your ear equal to the pressure outside. Sometimes, often in association with a cold or allergy attack the tube does not work well. When you are flying, there are pressure changes on takeoff and landing even in a pressurized airplane. If your Eustachian tube is not working properly, you may have pain, pressure, popping and clicking. In some people the Eustachian tube does not work well and they have popping and clicking all the time.
Why do people get holes in their eardrums?
Holes in the eardrum (perforations) can be caused by infection or by trauma. Infections can cause perforations by simply eating a hole in the eardrum. Trauma causes perforations by tearing the eardrum. Common types of trauma include poking a hole in the eardrum with a Q-tip or bobby pin while trying to clean the ear and sudden pressure changes caused by being accidentally hit in the ear (falling off water skis or being hit in the side of the head by a basketball for example).