Ear infections may not be as common in older adults as they are in children, but they do occasionally occur. They are caused by bacteria or a virus that infects the middle ear. Many times, ear infections happen because of other illnesses, like a cold, that causes the eustachian tubes to swell. The eustachian tubes are narrow tubes that connect the middle ear to the back of the throat. Congestion caused by a cold or other illness can cause the tubes to become blocked, which makes fluid build up in the middle ear. Bacteria or a virus in the fluid is what causes an infection.
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