Although kids are the ones who get ear infections the most, adults can also get them — and they can be seriously painful and annoying.
When an adult has an ear infection, the symptoms may also be slightly different.
Breast feeding really plays a big role in protecting the infant from having both the common cold and from ear infection. Basically, the mother passes immunity to the infant through breast milk.
An ear infection is a viral or bacterial infection of the outer, inner or middle ear. The condition is common, particularly in children, and is generally considered to be non-serious.
Ear infections can be caused by various factors, including sinus infections, bacterial infections, allergies, and colds. Other potential causes of ear infections include smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke and climate or altitude changes. Infants and young children can develop ear infections from using a pacifier or drinking from a bottle. Many of these factors contribute to the development of ear infections by causing fluid to build up in the middle ear, which can result in blockages that prevent the ear from draining properly.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), three in four children will have at least one ear infection by the age of three. Although ear infections are more common in children, adults are also vulnerable to these infections. While childhood infections are mostly minor and pass quickly, adult infections are often an indication of an underlying serious health condition.
There are several different types of ear infections depending on what part of the ear is infected. The ear is generally divided into three parts: the external ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The external ear includes the visible part of the ear and the ear canal. An infection of the ear canal is called otitis externa, commonly referred to as “swimmer’s ear”. The middle ear is the air-filled space between the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and the inner ear. The middle ear contains the ear bones and the Eustachian tube. Infections of the middle ear are called otitis media. The inner ear is located within the skull.