ADVERTISEMENT

​5 things to know if you're a grown woman who still gets ear infections

You don’t want one of these painful bad boys as an adult, when they can become more serious.

When ear pain hits a fully-formed human, docs usually look for one of two types of infection: middle-ear infections (which means there’s an infection behind the eardrum—colds and respiratory illnesses are often to blame), and external ear infections, a.k.a. swimmer’s ear, which usually occurs when water gets trapped in the ear canal and bacteria spreads, says Andy Ahuja, M.D., an otolaryngologist (a.k.a ears, nose, an throat doctor) based in Houston.

As much as you may have loved that pink bubblegum-flavored Amoxicillin as a kid, you don’t want one of these painful bad boys as an adult, when they can become more serious. Here’s the need-to-know about adult ear infections.

FLYING WITH A COLD PUTS YOU AT RISK

ADVERTISEMENT

You won’t just be contending with dirty looks from your neighbor if you fly 30,000 feet above ground while battling a cold or respiratory infection: Air travel can further irritate and clog the Eustachian tube (a small passageway that connects your throat to your middle ear) which may later turn into a bacterial ear infection, says Ahuja. (Not helpful: The imbalance of air pressure between the air in your middle ear and the pressure of the air around you can lead to major pain or feelings of intense pressure.) If you do have to fly while feeling under the weather, consider popping a decongestant to clear that Eustachian tube before taking off.

USING Q-TIPS CAN TRIGGER AN EAR INFECTION

Most doctors condemn putting a Q-tip (or anything smaller than your elbow) inside your ear, but the risk of perforating your ear drum isn’t the only reason why: When you use a Q-tip, wax often just gets pushed deeper inside the ear, where it can become trapped and accumulate bacteria or viruses that lead to an ear infection, says Ahuja. (Even though Q-tipping feels soooo good, it’s best to let the wax stick around: It’s great for trapping dirt and dust and keeping that junk out of your ear canal, helping to prevent an infection.)

AN EAR INFECTION COULD ACTUALLY BE AN TMJ

“Sometimes a patient will complain of ear pain, convinced they have an ear infection, but when we take a peek their ears are fine, and it’s actually TMJ, or stress at the jaw joint that’s triggering the pain,” says Ahuja. (Because the joint is located right next to the ear canal and middle ear, clenching or grinding your teeth can make it feel as though the pain is coming from right inside the ear.) An ENT can spot the difference between TMJ and an ear infection with a physical exam in the office, says Ahuja.

ADVERTISEMENT

SMOKING UPS YOUR RISK

Cigarettes don’t just take a toll on your lungs: Inhaling smoke irritates the entire upper airway system, including that Eustachian tube that connects the throat to the middle ear. Swelling and fluid retention can ensue, triggering an infection. (For years, studies have shown that kids exposed to second-hand smoke battle more ear infections than children who aren’t, so imagine the kind of impact puffing away has on your own ears.)

IGNORING AN EAR INFECTION COULD LEAD TO HEARING LOSS

An ear infection can make it tough for sound to reach your inner ear (temporarily muffling the outside world) but untreated ear infections, over time, have the potential to cause permanent hearing loss by damaging some of the structures in the middle ear. (The good news: “Most ear infections are so painful or bothersome, like a toothache but worse because you can’t hear well, that people like to get in to the doctor stat,” says Ahuja.) Bottom line: Never suck up ear pain—if you’ve dealt with more than one ear infection as an adult, it’s a good idea to be examined by an ENT to identify a root cause.

JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!

Unblock notifications in browser settings.
ADVERTISEMENT

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng

Recommended articles

How to make honey and sugar scrub for your skin

How to make honey and sugar scrub for your skin

7 cane furniture pieces to elevate your home

7 cane furniture pieces to elevate your home

Tiny plastic bits found in sperm of all men tested - Should men be worried?

Tiny plastic bits found in sperm of all men tested - Should men be worried?

5 tips to help you have an easier labour

5 tips to help you have an easier labour

Gladiatorial games and 5 other strange sports of ancient civilisations

Gladiatorial games and 5 other strange sports of ancient civilisations

5 worst courses to study in Nigeria and why

5 worst courses to study in Nigeria and why

Forget what your parents told you; marriage has changed now - 5 big changes

Forget what your parents told you; marriage has changed now - 5 big changes

Here are 5 reasons you shouldn't baby-trap a man into marrying you

Here are 5 reasons you shouldn't baby-trap a man into marrying you

DIY Recipes: The proper way to make a juicy steak

DIY Recipes: The proper way to make a juicy steak

10 travel routes where air passengers experience most turbulence

10 travel routes where air passengers experience most turbulence

Veekee James talks about the process of making Osas Ighodaro's AMVCA dress

Veekee James talks about the process of making Osas Ighodaro's AMVCA dress

Here is how to rock cargo pants correctly

Here is how to rock cargo pants correctly

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT