An ear infection is inflammation of the ear. Most children have at least one ear infection by the time they are 3 years old, but adults can also get ear infections.
Inflammation in the middle ear most often starts after you've had a sore throat, cold, or other upper respiratory problem. The infection spreads to the middle ear and causes fluid buildup behind the eardrum.
The most common symptoms of ear infections in adults are:
These symptoms may look like other conditions or health problems; always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
Your physician will review your health history and do a physical exam; your outer ears and eardrums will also be checked using an otoscope. An otoscope is a lighted tool that allows the physician to see inside the ear. A pneumatic otoscope blows a puff of air into the ear to test eardrum movement. Where there is the fluid of infection in the ear, the movement is decreased.
Your physician may also do a tympanometry, a test the directs air and sound to the ear.
If you have ear infections often, your physician may suggest having a hearing test.
Your physician will figure out the best treatment based on:
Treatment may include: