Top 6 Reasons Elderly People Get Ear Infections

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While ear infections are often seen in young children, it isn’t uncommon for older adults to contract them as well. In fact, there are some common reasons adults may develop ear infections later in life. The following are some of the most common causes of ear infections that seniors and their caregivers should be mindful of.


When the immune system encounters a substance it perceives as a threat, a chemical attack begins. This attack includes an accumulation of white blood cells and histamine release, which results in swelling and fluid release. Fluid in the middle ear then provides the ideal environment for microbe growth, which leads to an ear infection. Anti-allergy medications taken seasonally or year-round prevent the symptoms from developing.

Colds & Flu

Similarly, when viruses enter the body, the immune system mounts an attack. If the virus travels from nasal or oral passages through the eustachian tubes and into the middle ear, an infection develops. When a senior is stricken with upper respiratory symptoms, decongestants can alleviate the fluid accumulation and potential ear infections.

If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of in-home care. Assisting Hands Home Care is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. 

Swimmer’s Ear

When an older adult is bathing, showering, or swimming, fluid enters the outer ear canal. The moisture can get trapped and encourage bacterial or fungal growth, which can lead to a condition known as acute otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear. Seniors prone to developing ear infections may consider inserting cotton balls or ear plugs in their ears before bathing or swimming.

Tobacco Smoke

Chronic exposure to indoor smoke from cigarettes or other tobacco products may lead to respiratory irritation, similar to an allergic reaction. Middle ear irritation can lead to fluid buildup and possible infection. Ask smokers to smoke outside to avoid your loved one being exposed to tobacco smoke.


Aging adults undergoing treatment with immune-suppressing medications or radiation therapy are more susceptible to developing infections. In addition to living a healthy lifestyle, seniors must keep their distance from anyone who has any type of respiratory infection.

Seniors living with serious health conditions often need extensive assistance in and outside the home. Assisting Hands Home Care is a trusted provider of Columbus live-in care. Our caregivers are expertly trained to assist seniors with bathing, grooming, light housekeeping, and various other daily tasks, and we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Craniofacial Anomalies

Irregular eustachian tubes, sinus passage blockages, or other physical abnormalities may increase a senior’s chances of developing an ear infection. Over-the-counter medications can alleviate congestion when needed, though surgical intervention may be necessary to correct the problem.

Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care. Columbus families can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and we offer mentally stimulating activities that can boost cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your loved one, call us today.