Most of us have experienced ear pressure at a certain juncture. It can feel like one, or both ears are stopped or clogged, which is an unpleasant experience. Variations in altitude, a sinus disease, and even earwax accumulation are all possibilities for causing pressure in your ears.
Please continue reading to discover what triggers ear pressure, how to treat it, and when to seek medical attention.
What’s the source of your ear pressure?
Whenever the pressure in your middle ear differs from the outside world, you experience ear pressure. It’s also known as a sense of congestion, stuffiness, or uneasiness.
The pressure in the middle ear is controlled by eustachian tubes, which are little tubes. On each side of your skull, there is a eustachian tube. They begin in the middle ear and end near the junction of your nasal cavity and upper neck.
The eustachian tubes are usually opened when you swallow or yawn. The pressure in your inner ear is automatically equalized as a result. You may experience ear pressure that doesn’t subside on its own if the eustachian tubes become restricted or obstructed as a result of an illness.
Ear pressure: common causes and remedies
Some of the more prevalent reasons for ear pressure are listed below:
Sinusitis strikes roughly one in every eight persons each year and is caused by viruses or bacteria infecting the sinuses and multiplying. Sinusitis can induce swelling and inflammation, resulting in a dull aching in your sinuses. Pressure in your forehead, sides of your nose, upper jaw and teeth, and between your eyes is possible.
Sinus congestion may cause the following symptoms:
- ear pain or pressure
- a clogged nose
- stale breath
- pain, swelling, or tenderness around the cheeks, eyes, or forehead
- Decreased sense of smell
Sinusitis can be treated with a variety of at-home therapies. Among them are:
- Steam therapy – Inhale steam from a humidifier to lower pressure.
- Saline spray – Saline spray contains salt, which can improve nasal moisture and relieve sinus strain.
- Decongestants available over-the-counter — Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help alleviate discomfort and swelling.
Earwax keeps the ear canal clean, protected and lubricated. Earwax, on the other hand, can sometimes build up, and you can end up with a blocked ear. Symptoms include:
- a feeling of fullness in the ear
- muffled hearing
- partial hearing loss that becomes worse with time
- ringing in the ears, or tinnitus
Earwax build-up is frequently caused by using Q-tips or similar devices to eliminate earwax. The wax is pushed deeper into the ear canal because of this procedure. Earwax accumulation can be treated with the following methods:
- Using baby oil, mineral oil, or glycerine, place a few drops inside the ear.
- Using over-the-counter ear drops
- Using an over-the-counter ear syringing kit or having your ear syringed by a doctor
- physically removing the wax with the help of a physician.
Change in Altitude
Your eustachian tubes may not have enough time to adjust to variations in pressure whenever you move altitude. This can occur while flying, travelling through the highlands, or travelling up an elevator in a big building, to illustrate the point.
While lowering, divers may feel ear pressure. The water pressure presses against the middle ear. Divers learn to dive gently and ventilate through their eustachian tubes to balance middle ear pressure.
Some possible treatments for ear pressure due to altitude fluctuations encompass:
- squeezing nose and slowly blowing, then swallowing
- gum chewing
- taking stimulants
- chewing a hard candy
Objects might get stuck in the ear canal from time to time. Kids are prone to putting things in their ears out of curiosity or experimentation.
Beads and buttons, crayons, toys, tiny batteries, insects, and food are popular examples. Foreign items trapped in the ear include ear pressure, ear flushing, ear leakage, and hearing loss. Objects lodged in the ear must be removed. Objects can usually be removed in one of the following methods by a doctor:
- utilizing forceps or tweezers
- If the object is metallic, use magnets.
- Using water to flush the ear
- Using a vacuum cleaner
Ear infections can induce ear pressure as well. Whenever fluids stay in the middle ear for a long time, it causes significant pain, fever, and hearing loss. To relieve the pain, over-the-counter pain relievers or ear drops may be prescribed.
Ear tubes are required when ear infections become severe. Ear tubes are cylinder-shaped tubes inserted into the eardrum to aid in the passage of air through the middle ear canal.
Individuals sensitive to pollen, moulds, or pet dander commonly suffer from allergic rhinitis. This can lead to nasal channel irritation and mucus accumulation, as well as a problem with the Eustachian tube, culminating in ear pressure. Antihistamines and corticosteroid nasal sprays are available over-the-counter and can help reduce allergy symptoms.
The eustachian tubes can be affected by allergies or colds, resulting in fluid build-up in the middle ear. An infection of this fluid causes otitis media.
The ailment generating the fluid build-up should be treated to help it drain. Besides, if there has been a build-up of fluid in the ears for a long time, a surgical operation to relieve pressure and drain fluid may be required.
Surgical options for treating severe ear pressure
Your physician may recommend surgery if you have regular ear pressure concerns. The possibilities will be discussed further down.
The doctor creates a tiny cut in the eardrum during this surgery. Any collected fluid in the middle ear is then properly evacuated. The incision is typically left exposed until the eustachian tube is no longer swollen or blocked. A myringotomy can be done with or without ear tubes.
After creating the cut and emptying the fluid, a short metal or plastic tube is placed into the eardrum, comparable to a myringotomy. This tube should be left in place to alleviate pressure and inhibit fluid accumulation.
While these methods effectively reduce ear pressure, they do have certain drawbacks. The eardrum incision may not mend completely in some circumstances, necessitating surgery. Furthermore, while swimming or showering, individuals with tubes in their ears must use earplugs or cotton balls to prevent water from getting inside.
When should you consult a physician?
It’s critical to know what’s causing your ear pressure and how to deal with it. It’s time to see a doctor if you’re suffering from chronic ear pressure or congestion. If you have ear pressure that includes the following symptoms, you should see your doctor.
- Protracted or worsens after home therapy
- Symptoms include extreme discomfort, fever, disorientation, and ear bleeding.
- The pressure is caused by a foreign item that cannot be removed utilizing at-home first aid methods.
Ear pressure can be caused by a variety of factors, including sinus congestion, infection, and TMJ injury. Environmental circumstances like changes in altitude or having a foreign body caught within the ear can also cause it.
Some types of ear pressure can be treated with over-the-counter drugs and home treatments. Others may require medical or surgical treatment from a professional.
If an individual has prolonged ear pressure, particularly accompanied by other concerning symptoms, they should consult a physician. A physician will seek to determine the source of the symptoms and treat them appropriately.