Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

What causes 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.​

​​​What are the symptoms of an ear infection?

The following are the most common symptoms of ear infections in adults​:

  • ​Ear Pain
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Fever
  • Hearing loss
​​*These symptoms may look like other conditions or health problems


​​​How is an ear infection diagnosed?

Your health history will be reviewed with your health care provider, and a physical exam will be performed.  At this time, your outer ears and eardrums will be checked by an otoscope, 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 the eardrum.  When there is fluid or an infection in the ear, movement is decreased.

A tympanometry may also be performed, testing that directs air and sound to the middle ear. 

If you have frequent ear infections, your physician may suggest heaving a hearing test. ​


​​​How is an ear infection treated?

Your physician will figure out the best treatment based on:​

  • ​How old you are
  • Your overall health and health history
  • How sick you are
  • How well you can handle specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • How long the condition is expected to last
  • Your opinion or preference

​​Treatments may include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Pain relievers
  • Insertion of small tubes in the eardrums from chronic ear infections​​​​