Adult ear infection: What are the treatment options?

An adult ear infection is uncommon and managed in the same manner as childhood ear infections. The infection arises if the middle ear is inflamed in which the normal ability of the ear to drain fluid is disrupted.

The fluid accumulates in the ear, promoting the growth of viruses or bacteria. An individual with a suspected ear infection should consult a doctor for the ideal treatment.

Home care


The ear pain can be eased by placing a warm cloth over the affected ear.

Most cases of infection naturally settle as the body fights the infection. If an individual is suffering from an adult ear infection, he/she should rest and increase the intake of fluids to keep the body hydrated.

It is recommended to sleep a minimum of 8 hours every night and take naps if tired. Clear fluids should be taken such as water or fruit juices but avoid coffee, soda products and alcohol.

The ear pain can be eased by placing a warm cloth over the affected ear. A warm compress is prepared by immersing a wash cloth in hot water for 30 seconds and wring out the excess and apply over the ear. If the warmth subsides, re-wet the cloth.

Over-the-counter medications of an adult ear infection

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

The antihistamines work by reducing the amount of fluid in the ear. Some of these drugs can cause significant drowsiness which does not make it advisable for use while driving or operating heavy equipment.

The pain medications work by lessening the ear pain and can lower fever at the same time. Acetaminophen can be given to manage pain from an ear infection.

Prescription drugs

The commonly used medical treatment for an adult ear infection is antibiotics. Take note that antibiotics are only effective if the infection is due to bacteria. In case the symptoms do not settle in 3 days of starting antibiotics, a doctor should be consulted.

Surgery might be necessary if the adult ear infection leads to an ruptured eardrum or malfunctioning ear tubes.


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