It’s the middle of the night and you wake up with a sharp, stabbing pain in your ear. You’re pretty sure you have an ear infection. You’re surprised, because you didn’t know adults could get ear infections. As it turns out, they can.

What is an ear infection?

While mostly thought of as a childhood ailment, a little less than 20 percent of ear infections occur in adults. Ear infections are more common in children because their Eustachian tubes are smaller and can therefore become blocked easier.

Ear infections can affect the inner, middle, and outer ear, and can be caused by inflammation, bacteria or viruses, or water that remains in your ear after swimming or bathing.

Symptoms of adult ear infections include ear pain, muffled hearing, a feeling of fullness in the ear, ear drainage, and nausea.

How can I prevent an adult ear infection?

To prevent an ear infection, make sure to completely dry your ears after any extended period of time in the water. Also, not only should you not smoke, but you should avoid secondhand smoke if possible. Try to avoid people with upper respiratory problems, and make sure allergies are managed appropriately.

Why and how should I treat my ear infection?

Most ear infections are treated with antibiotics. If you don’t get treatment for an ear infection, you not only run the risk of the infection spreading to other parts of your head, but it may even cause permanent hearing loss. If the infection persists, your doctor may try other antibiotics or even consider you for ear tubes. You should strongly consider going to the emergency room if your ear pain is accompanied by nausea or a high fever.

Other causes of ear pain

CEENTA ENT doctor John Kilde, MDIf your only symptom is an earache, you might have another issue that causes ear pain, including dental disease, TMJ (jaw joint) pain, neck pain, or throat pain. Adult ear infections or ear pain may also be the sign of a more serious health problem, such as meningitis or head trauma.

If the pain doesn’t get better, you have a fever, fluid is draining from your ear, or you have trouble hearing, you’ll want to see a doctor as soon as you can, CEENTA ENT doctor John Kilde, MD, said. These will help your doctor rule out any of the more serious complications possible and ensure they have every chance to restore your hearing to normal.

Listen to what your body tells you. Don’t ignore ear pain just because you think you’re too old for ear infections.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. To make an appointment with Dr. Kilde or any of CEENTA’s ENT doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.

 


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Comments

November 11, 2020

Earaches are very painful and sometimes unbearable. The blog clearly explains about the types of earaches and ways to prevent them. Well described, Thanks for Sharing!
- Irvine Woodbridge Walk-In Urgent Care

August 13, 2020

I woke up fine one morning few hours later the left side behind my ear the bony part start hurting can't turn my head to the left went to the E R got a prescription for a muscle relaxer woke up next day still feeling the same
- Derrick

August 13, 2020

Good morning. If you live in the Charlotte region and would like a CEENTA ENT doctor to examine you, please call 704-295-3000 to schedule an appointment. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

June 25, 2020

I have had an ear infection for months now and on antibiotics twice with steroids. Now my neck is very sore amd achy on that side. Is that common?
- Toni Richardson

June 26, 2020

Good morning. We cannot diagnose individual patients without seeing them. If you live in the Charlotte region and would like an in-person interview, or if you live anywhere in the US and would like a virtual visit, please call 704-295-3000. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

May 31, 2020

Hi i have been suffering from anxiety and know that im feeling better i am still having ear pain once or twice a day. Is this normal?
- Eli

June 01, 2020

Good morning. We can't comment on specific patient issues without seeing them in person. If you live in the Charlotte area and would like an in-person appointment, or you live anywhere in the US and would like a virtual visit, please call 704-295-3000. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

April 30, 2020

I have had bad ear infections in the past but thought it was Diabeties. I’m free of Diabeties now but since feb I have had three infections. They felt like boils that burst then they left me with very little hearing in left ear. I have contacted gp and they said we don’t do wax removal and said talk to chemist and gave me a number for private practise for ear syringing I said I don’t know if it was because the pain I’ve been in has been bad. Last week the pain had gone and I was left with limited muffled hearing. Three days ago the pain started again my ear has swollen and there isn’t a gap so you can’t see down my ear. The pain is so bad it feels like it’s going to left side of my head behind my eye. The gp has called me after I phoned surgery and has prescribed flucoxacillan. I have started this but the pain is unbearable. I have even taken shorter 5 mG capsules for pain I feel hot clammy and the pain is out of control with covid going on o can’t get checked out o have tried heat pads but nothing is helping. Any advice welcome.
- Karen hobbs

May 01, 2020

Good morning. We cannot diagnose patients without examining them, but if you live in the Charlotte region and would like an in-person appointment, or if you live anywhere in the United States and would like a virtual visit, please call 704-295-3000.
Reply From: CEENTA

April 10, 2020

My ear has been hurting so much and I can’t even sleep because it wakes me up and doesn’t let me keep sleeping. I can’t go see a doctor due to the whole COVID-19 thing and I don’t know what to do because it hurts a lot. I’m also only 13, so I’m not sure what to try to fix it.
- F

April 10, 2020

Good morning. Unfortunately, we can't diagnose patients over the Internet. We recommend talking to your parents and asking them to ask your doctor if they offer telehealth/virtual visits. If you live in the Charlotte region, ask them to call 704-295-3000 to see if you can get a virtual visit at CEENTA.
Reply From: CEENTA

February 16, 2020

Swelling and inflammation of inner ear Outside ear has drainage that is crusty and makes ear raw Glands behind ear swollen Hurts to close mouth
- Cindy

February 17, 2020

Good morning. If you would live in the Charlotte region and would like an appointment with a CEENTA doctor, please call 704-295-3000.
Reply From: CEENTA

February 13, 2020

My ear has been hurting a lot and can’t really hear clearly and feels wet , I’ve tried taking medicine and ear drops but it doesn’t help. Should I go to the ER
- Nita

February 13, 2020

Good morning. An ER visit is probably not necessary, but a doctor's visit is recommended. If you live in the Charlotte region and would like an appointment with a CEENTA doctor, please call 704-295-3000. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

February 12, 2020

I went swimming 2 months ago got water in my ear ive had severe pain in my head . It feels like 1 side of my face fills up with pressure. It hurts my eyebrow my nose my cheekbone and jaw. Doctor has given me 3 lots of antibiotics . Im up every night in pain . Doctor has finally given me some eardrops theyve tsken away the pain thank god but i can still feel the side of my face filling up with pressure . Has anybody else had this pleasevtell me what helped you cure it. I just want to feel normal again !!
- Kelly

February 13, 2020

Good morning. We're sorry you're feeling such discomfort. Unfortunately, we can't diagnose patients without seeing them in person, but if you live in the Charlotte region and would like to see a CEENTA doctor, please call 704-295-3000.
Reply From: CEENTA

January 23, 2020

Agggggony in ear Been twice to dr gave antibiotic..been on it for 5 days no improvment..total agony that i cant sleep....hellllllllp please
- Rose

January 24, 2020

Hello. We're sorry you're not feeling well. If you would like a CEENTA doctor to examine your ear, please call 704-295-3000 to schedule an appointment.
Reply From: CEENTA

January 22, 2020

My ear hurts when i yawn or cough and i feel really hot i can barely hear all I hear is muffling in my ear do I need to go to the er or just not worry about it
- Maranda

January 22, 2020

Good morning. We recommend seeing a doctor. If you live in the Charlotte region and would like an appointment at CEENTA, please call 704-295-3000. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

October 10, 2019

I v been suffering from pain behind my ears, neck on left side, I v had various tests brain scan, and camera in throat, im worried as iv got a persistent cough with it and my balance and unsteady on my feet feeling exhausted ☹️
- Christina

October 10, 2019

Good afternoon. We're sorry you're not feeling well. We cannot diagnose patients over the Internet, but if you would like to make an appointment with a CEENTA doctor, please call 704-295-3000.
Reply From: CEENTA

May 28, 2019

I have been to emergency two time in one month my ear hurts my glands are so sore. Dr. Told me I had a urinary infection. But it's no getting any better. It first started when blow my nose and puncher my ear drum.
- Lance

May 28, 2019

Good afternoon. If you still have concerns about your health, we recommend seeing your doctor again, as we are unable to diagnose patients over the Internet.
Reply From: CEENTA

May 12, 2019

For as long as I can remember, several times a month I will wake in the night with intense inner ear pain. It is so bad that I cannot move my head. I literally have to use my hands to turn my head very slowly. I'm a side sleeper and this happens in both ears. After a night of this, the pain will remain for the day and then gradually subside. I have yet to find a diagnosis or relief.
- Tiffiny

May 13, 2019

Good morning. If you have specific concerns about your health, we recommend making an appointment with a doctor, as we are unable to diagnose patients over the Internet. To make an appointment with a CEENTA physician, call 704-295-3000. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

March 24, 2019

My left ear hurt me at night 1 or 2 times in a week . Why it happens ?
- Ayesha omar

March 25, 2019

Good morning. Unfortunately, we are unable to diagnose individual cases over the Internet. We recommend making an appointment with your doctor. To make an appointment with someone at CEENTA, call 704-295-3000. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

January 07, 2019

My ears are itchy for 2 months now at the time I had no infection just water build up now they said my ear drum rupture I have no pain no lost hearing just say old thing itchy of ears
- LeeLee

January 08, 2019

Good morning. If you are concerned about your ears, please make an appointment with an ENT physician. You can schedule one at CEENTA by calling 704-295-3000.
Reply From: CEENTA

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