Back to Health A to Z. Glue ear is where the empty middle part of the ear canal fills up with fluid. This can cause temporary hearing loss.
Ear infections may be more common in children than in adults, but grown-ups are still susceptible to these infections. Unlike childhood ear infections, which are often minor and pass quickly, adult ear infections are frequently signs of a more serious health problem. There are three main types of ear infections.
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The middle ear is the space behind the eardrum, which is connected to the back of the throat by a passageway called the Eustachian tube. Middle ear infections, also called otitis media, can occur when congestion from an allergy or cold blocks the Eustachian tube. Fluid and pressure build up, so bacteria or viruses that have traveled up the Eustachian tube into the middle ear can multiply and cause an ear infection.
The auditory tube allows fluid to drain from the ear into the back of the throat. If the auditory tube becomes clogged, fluid will become trapped in the middle ear space. This fluid is called an effusion by your healthcare providers.
An ear infection sometimes called acute otitis media is an infection of the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections. Because ear infections often clear up on their own, treatment may begin with managing pain and monitoring the problem.
Most people are aware that middle ear infections are very common in young children. Children are known to be more prone to this condition due to their more horizontal Eustachian tubes and propensity for harvesting infections in general. Pain may increase until the eardrum ruptures from fluid pressure.
Ear infections are not as common in adults as they are in children, although they can be more serious. The symptoms of ear infections in adults should be closely monitored and diagnosed by a doctor to avoid any complications. Certain situations and actions put some people more at risk for ear infections than others.
NCBI Bookshelf. Interventions for adult Eustachian tube dysfunction: a systematic review. Health Technology Assessment, No.