Inner Ear Infection in Adults – Symptoms, Treatment & Home Remedies

Not only children but adults too, experience infections in the ear, commonly in the inner part of the ear. You may become susceptible to such infections, especially if you are less careful about yourself, or you are completely ignoring your well-being.

The inner ear generally consists of fluid-filled tubes and sacs that are known as ‘labyrinth’ (in medical terminology) and causes labyrinthitis, also known as vestibular neuritis, which is inflammation of the inner ear. The labyrinth basically serves two major functions, which are hearing and equilibrium (or balance), respectively.

Let’s discuss the infection in the inner ear and cover its aspects in detail.

What is an inner ear infection?

Inner ear

‘Otitis interna’, is the medical terminology of the inner ear infection. It is a disease which involves inflammation of the inner ear (or labyrinthitis). Now, this may become pretty painful, if proper care is not given, especially during the initial stages. Thus, if you are an adult having an ear infection, it is advised that you give serious attention to its symptoms and see a doctor as early as possible.

A condition diagnosed as an inner ear infection may actually be a case of inflammation and not an actual infection. An inner ear infection is inflammation or irritation of the parts of the ear called labyrinthitis, which is responsible for balance.

How Infection In The Inner Ear or Otitis Interna Is Caused?

 

Otitis interna

Infection in the inner ear or otitis interna is mainly caused by bacteria or virus that dwell in our surroundings. But the most common cause of an inner ear infection is a virus. It is less possible that the cause of inner ear infection (Otitis interna) may be a bacteria.

Viruses associated with inner ear infections include influenza, herpes viruses, Epstein-Barr virus, and polio. The inner ear consists of fluid-filled semicircular canals, cochlea, vestibular nerve, and auditory nerve. The virus affects these parts and it leads to the inflammation of the inner parts. This causes inner ear infections.

Sometimes, an infection may also be caused due to water being trapped inside the ear, or due to the excessive buildup of earwax for quite a long time. Apart from these, the other types of causes may include smoking (both active and second-hand) and having allergies, which are either seasonal or year-round. These may also put you at risk of developing an infection in the ear.

It is often seen that many swimmers are prone to this type of infection because of the water getting accumulated inside the ears and staying there for longer periods of time, with no action of drying or draining them out or perhaps, cleaning the ears properly after swimming.

The same goes with individuals who have a bath or shower and do not give proper care in cleaning the ears off of the accumulated water.

Ear infection in children are often minor and can heal quickly, unlike ear infection in adults and older people, which are signs of a serious health problem.

Other causes of inner ear infection

Additionally, there are other factors that contribute to the cause of inner ear infection in children and adults, which include:

  • Genetics
  • Environmental allergies
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Food allergies
  • Internal injuries
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Smoking and alcohol
  • Head stroke or injuries
  • Meningitis

In the following sections, we shall see the common signs and symptoms of inner ear infection and methods to treat the infection.

Signs and Symptoms

 

The inner ear infection symptoms are different from that of Otitis externa or Otitis media. You may find yourself having the problem of vomiting, nausea, and dizziness in case of inner ear infection. But these signs are not present in the middle ear infections. Thus you have to be careful about the specific symptoms of your specific part of your ears. Let’s have a look at the symptoms of an inner ear infection.

A person who is suffering from an inner ear infection or otitis interna may tend to show a few symptoms. The common signs and symptoms of inner ear infection basically include:

Inner ear disorders can last longer.

If you are experiencing any or all of the symptoms listed above, this indicates that you have an infection in the inner ear or otitis interna and you are required to seek treatment from a doctor immediately. Also, please be aware that if treatment is not sought immediately, you may experience complications at later stages.

Treatment For Inner Ear Infection

Infection in the ear is likely to occur in any of the three parts of the ear – outer, middle and inner parts of the ear. Also, infection in the ear is a serious matter. Therefore, it is important to treat the infection in order to prevent complications, which includes damaging or rupturing the eardrum and much more.

Diagnosis is a prior process of treatment. An audiologist will observe your ears with an otoscope. Then it will be followed by the hearing test. Your treatment will depend on the underlying causes of infections.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with an inner ear infection (otitis interna) are advised to go for proper treatment. Availing treatment for infection of the inner ear (otitis interna) is mandatory for both children and adults. This is greatly achieved by seeking a professional doctor at a healthcare institution in your area.

In addition to using antibiotics, other medications may also be given to persons having an infection in the inner ear in order to reduce swelling and inflammation. These are useful to treat an inner ear infection, to reduce swelling and inflammation, to treat nausea and vomiting, and to help eliminate dizziness and vertigo.

Over the counter medications

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can be used to treat nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and vertigo.

Generally, treatment for inner ear infection involves the use of antibiotics like ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) which are prescribed by professional doctors as a means of temporary solution, if you are experiencing mild pain in the ear that is caused due to the infection from bacteria or virus.

Prescription medications

  • Steroids such as prednisone may help with inflammation.
  • Antibiotics or antiviral medications to treat the infection
  • Nausea may be controlled with Meclizine (Antivert), Promethazine hydrochloride (Phenergan), Lorazepam (Ativan) and Diazepam (Valium)
  • If you become dehydrated from severe vomiting, you may need medical treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids.

Severe hearing loss after bacterial labyrinthitis can sometimes be treated with a cochlear implant.

When treated promptly, most inner ear infections will resolve in a few days to about 2 weeks duration, with no permanent damage to the ear. Untreated infections in the inner ear have the possibility of leading to chronic recurrence, which may ultimately result in partial or permanent deafness or damage to the vestibular system.

Home remedies for inner ear infection

Natural or home remedies include effective diet plans and a couple of precautions that can help you protect yourself and your family against infection of the inner ear regardless of your age. The basic home remedies can help you get rid of the pain and other symptoms that you may be experiencing from the infection in your ear.

You may use the following natural substances in order to relieve from otitis interna.

  • Hydrogen peroxide drops
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Gargling with salt water
  • Tea tree oil
  • Naturopathic drops
  • Olive oil
  • Ginger and garlic oil

Given below are some of the effective home remedies for adult that can aid you to overcome problems with the infection.

Warm water bottle or compress

Warm compress

Whenever a person suffers physical pain, treating it with a hot substance often becomes the first option as an effective remedy. Generally, using a warm water bottle or a warm compress works most of the time. Applying a warm cloth on the infected ear for a few minutes and then repeating the process can help in reducing the pain in the ear.

Hot salt wrapped in a cloth

Salt is one of the most readily available home remedies for dealing with pain in the ear. All you have to do here is take a small cup of salt, heat it properly, then wrap it in a cloth and seal the end of the cloth by tying a knot. Now, lay down and place the cloth with hot salt on the affected ear for a couple of minutes (about 5-10 minutes). Repeat this process a few times daily to relieve you from the pain and swelling in the ear. Alternatively, you could also use rice in place of salt for the same purpose.

Garlic oil ear drops

Garlic oil

Garlic has antimicrobial properties that naturally heals pain and is also popularly useful in the treatment of ear infections. Simply make garlic oil by cooking two garlic cloves in two tablespoons of sesame or mustard oil until it has turned blackish. Then, strain the solution and gently pour two or four drops of warm garlic oil in the affected ear. Leave it for a couple of minutes and then clean the ear properly. Repeat this step a few time daily.

Extracted basil juice

Basil juice

Basil is also used for the treatment of minor earaches and infections in the ears. It can give you relief from pain in the ear. To use this remedy, gently crush four or five basil leaves in order to extract its juice and apply it on or around the infected ear. However, avoid getting the juice in the ear canal.

Treating pain and infection in the ear can be overcome by using the home remedies that are mentioned above. Thus, if you are experiencing minor problems with your ear, these solutions can be very effective for you.

However, it should also be noted that if the pain or infection in the inner ear does not heal by itself in a few days, then it is strongly advised to seek a doctor in order to get proper medical treatment and prevent any possible damages from occurring in your ears at a later point in time.

Preventive steps for an inner ear infection

Though inner ear infection is non-contagious, viruses can make them contagious.

Thus you may follow the preventive steps in order to prevent yourself from an inner ear infection.

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid sharing food and drinks from someone, who is suffering from ear infections.
  • Avoid smoking and especially second-hand smoking.
  • Keep your ears neat and clean as dirt, moisture and wax accumulation will affect your inner ear parts.
  • Talk to your doctors about vaccination. Seasonal flu shots, pneumococcal and other bacterial vaccines may help prevent ear infections.
  • Protect your ears from the fluid. If it is trapped in your ear you should remove the water immediately.
  • Keep drinking plenty of water and proper intake of fluids to protect yourself from dehydration.

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Inner Ear Infection in Adults – Symptoms, Treatment & Home Remedies
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