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Can Adults Get Ear Infections?

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

When we think of ear infections, we usually think immediately of children. Children tend to be more susceptible to ear infections than adults due to the anatomical differences in their eustachian tubes, which are small tubes that run from the middle of the ear to the back of the throat. However, children are not the only ones who get ear infections; adults are still susceptible to ear infections despite their age. And unlike ear infections in children, which usually pass quickly, adult ear infections could be a sign of a more serious health problem.

An ear infection is usually caused by bacteria or a virus in the middle ear. This infection is often the result of a previous difference illness, such as a cold, the flu or even allergies. These illnesses can often lead to congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat and eustachian tubes.

There are a few reasons why adults could get an ear infection. One, if your eustachian tubes are small and/or don’t have enough of a slope, you could be at higher risk for adult ear infections. Two, you may be prone to ear infections as an adult if you smoke or are around a lot of secondhand smoke. And thirdly, seasonal or year-round allergies, as well as a cold or upper respiratory infection, all increase your risk of an infection of the ear.

It is important to know that there are three main types of ear infections: inner, middle and outer. They correspond to the three main parts of the ear. The most common type of ear infection in adults is middle ear infections, also known as otitis media.

Otitis media is caused by fluid that is trapped behind the eardrum. Symptoms of a middle ear infection usually involve fever, an earache, trouble hearing, or the sense of fullness and liquid in the ear.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to make an appointment to see an ear nose and throat specialist.

During your appointment, our doctors will get your medical history and use a handheld device called an otoscope to get a detailed look at your outer and inner ear. From there they will either continue with more necessary tests or diagnose and treat your ear infection.

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