MayoClinic.com states that adult ear infections are uncommon and are treated similarly to childhood ear infections. The New York Times reports that 15 to 30 million doctor visits are the result of ear infections annually. An adult ear infection occurs when the middle ear becomes inflamed, cutting off the ear's normal ability to drain fluid. The fluid builds up in the ear, encouraging the growth of bacteria or a virus. Patients should talk with their doctor about the best treatment for an adult ear infection.
Most adult ear infections will naturally go away as the body fights off the infection, according to MayoClinic.com. It is recommended that a person suffering from an ear infection get extra rest and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. He should sleep a minimum of eight hours a night and take naps whenever his body feels tired. He should drink clear liquids such as hot herbal tea, water and fruit juice, but avoid soda products, coffee and alcohol. A good way for him to ease any pain he may experience is to place a warm cloth over his ear. He should hold a wash cloth under hot tap water for 30 seconds, wring it out and place it over the infected ear, re-wetting the cloth when it loses warmth.
Common over-the-counter medications used to treat an adult ear infection are pain relievers and antihistamines. Antihistamines are used to reduce the amount of fluid in the ear. Some antihistamines can cause significant drowsiness, however, and are not advisable while driving or operating heavy machinery. Patients should read the product labels and talk with their doctor to determine the best antihistamine. Pain relievers help reduce ear pain and can lower a fever at the same time. Aspirin and ibuprofen are not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers and should not be given to children or teenagers, according to MayoClinic.com. Acetaminophen can also be used to treat pain from an ear infection.
The most common medical treatment for an adult ear infection is the use of antibiotics, according to the New York Times Health Guide. Antibiotics are only effective if the ear infection is the result of a bacterial infection. If symptoms do not improve within three days of starting the antibiotic, patients should tell their doctor.
Surgery may be required if the adult ear infection leads to a ruptured ear drum or malfunctioning ear tubes. MayoClinic.com, however, states that surgery is very rarely needed for adult ear infections.
If blood or puss is expelled from the ear, it could be a sign of a more complex issue and should be evaluated by a doctor immediately.