Although ear infections are more common in children, adults can suffer from ear infections too. In fact, ear infections are quite common among adults, especially among those who swim regularly and those who have had a recent illness, such as a cold or sinus infection. An ear infection can lead to serious complications, such as permanent hearing loss, if the condition is not identified and treated in a timely manner. So you should familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of an ear infection and know when to seek medical attention.
An ear infection can present with a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. On the mild side, an infected ear may simply itch or feel full. More noticeable symptoms include pain, swelling, redness, discharge, hearing loss, nausea, fever, and vertigo. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed or may not cause much concern. However, even mild symptoms should be taken seriously, especially if they last for more than a day. If you have more serious symptoms, you should see a doctor right away. Don't wait a day to see if they go away.
Major complications associated with ear infections are rare. However, the risk for developing complications increases along with the duration and severity of the infections. Ongoing, untreated ear infections can lead to serious problems, such as permanent hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss is caused by the accumulation of scar tissue behind the eardrum and/or damage to the small bones of the ear. If fluid from an infection builds up behind the eardrum, it may cause the eardrum to rupture. These complications may require surgery to repair.
An ear infection always requires medical intervention. Standard treatment courses usually include oral antibiotics, pain relievers, and ear drops, which can be prescribed by your family doctor or an urgent care doctor. Fortunately, these medications cure an ear infection in most people. However, those with underlying issues, such as large adenoids and chronic drainage issues, may have to undergo surgery. The most common surgeries include placing tubes in the eardrum and removing enlarged adenoids.
An ear infection is nothing to mess around with, and it won't go away on its own. If you think you have an ear infection, be sure to make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. If you develop a high fever or severe pain, go to urgent care immediately. Symptoms can become quite severe in a short amount of time.
For more information, contact Walton Family Medicine PC or a similar location.