Are you feeling pressure in your ears and the problem is not going away? The sensation can be extremely discomforting and you might feel that one or even both your ears are clogged or plugged up. The feeling of pressure can be caused by many factors. The section below would discuss some of the most prominent ones among them and also educate you about possible solutions.
Who do we have pressure in our ears?
We feel pressure in our ears typically when there’s a difference in the level of pressure in our middle ear and the area outside it. This difference in pressure may have several causes, some of which are more common than the others.
Before discussing those causes, we would like to mention that the pressure in the middle ear is regulated by our eustachian tube, the canal connecting our middle ear with our upper throat and nasal cavity.
Common ear pressure causes
When our altitude changes suddenly, for instance, when we fly in an airplane, our eustachian tube doesn’t get enough time to adjust according to the changed pressure.
Divers may also have a similar experience while descending. Usually, the middle ear of a diver finds it difficult to adapt according to the pressure of the surrounding water if the person descends at a high speed. That’s the reason why divers are advised to go down slowly.
This condition is marked by inflammation of our sinuses (the hollow cavities in our skull). These inflamed sinuses may also cause a feeling of fullness or pressure in our ears. Sinusitis usually results from viral infections; however, on rare occasions, bacteria might also be involved.
Bacterial or viral ear infections
We often suffer from middle ear infections resulting from improper draining of the eustachian tube. Fluid buildup in our ears might make the region a breeding ground for infection-causing bacteria and viruses and trigger a sense of fullness in the infected ear.
Cold and allergies
Common signs of cold, for instance, nasal congestion and inflammation, can also have a major impact on our eustachian tube. Those conditions stop the eustachian tube from equalizing pressure in our middle ear.
Individuals, who are allergic to pet dander, mold, or pollen, often develop a condition called allergic rhinitis. The most common symptoms of the disorder include mucus buildup and an inflamed nasal passage. These changes also affect our eustachian tube and thereby often cause ear pressure.
Earwax buildup or presence of foreign objects
Human body produces earwax naturally for protecting the inner walls of the ears. Usually, earwax produced inside the ears flake-off after moving down our ear canal and reaching our outer ear. However, excess earwax production might impair this natural procedure to a great extent and may also block our ear canals. This, in turn, increases pressure in the ears.
You may also feel ear pressure if any foreign object has got stuck inside your ear. In such cases, the pressure is often accompanied by pain in the ears. This usually happens in infants and small children who have the habit of placing foreign objects inside their mouth, nose, or ears.
Uncommon ear pressure causes
Menier’s disease usually triggers the feeling of pressure in just one ear. The condition is marked by fluid buildup in our inner ear. The condition may make us experience health issues like loss of balance and hearing loss. You may also experience severe dizziness when suffering from this health disorder.
This condition is marked by abnormal skin growth in the middle ear. In many patients, the problem is congenital (present from birth) in nature. Others develop it after suffering from multiple ear infections.
If your ear pressure has resulted from cholesteatoma, you will have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Hearing loss
- Ear pain
- Foul-smelling secretion
Acoustic neuromas are benign tumors appearing on the cranial nerve performing the job of transmitting sound signals to our brain. The condition is extremely rare. If you have ear pressure due to acoustic neuroma, you will also experience hearing loss at some point. You may even hear a ringing sound in your ears.
Fungal ear infections
Otomycosis or fungal ear infections may result in a feeling of pressure in the ears. The condition is more common in people with a weak immune system, for example, individuals suffering from diabetes.
What can you do to relieve ear pressure?
If you are facing the issue due to a sudden altitude change, swallowing or yawning may help you in opening up the eustachian tubes and equalizing pressure. If you are an adult, you may also use a nasal spray (decongestant) available over-the-counter for unblocking the eustachian tubes.
If the problem resulted from earwax buildup, apply a solution like hydrogen peroxide or mineral oil into your ears for dissolving the earwax. You can also remove your earwax manually using tools specially designed for this job. However, it would be good if the manual removal of earwax is done by a doctor.
If you have sinus, allergic rhinitis, or an ear infection, get yourself checked by a physician and take medications prescribed by him. Depending on the condition responsible for causing ear pressure, your doctor will prescribe pain killers, antibiotics, paracetamols, eardrops, and/or decongestants.
If you are experiencing ear pressure due to fluid buildup, you may undergo surgery for draining the fluid and reducing pressure.
One common surgery carried out in such a situation is myringotomy. During myringotomy, the surgeon will make a tiny incision on your eardrum. He will remove the fluid accumulated in your middle ear through that incision.
Usually, the surgeon doesn’t shut the incision until blockage or swelling of the patient’s eustachian tube subsides. Depending on your specific needs, your doctor may decide to do the surgery with ear tubes or without them.
When performing myringotomy using a tube, the surgeon will be inserting a tiny plastic or metal tube into the patient’s eardrum. The tube is not removed even after surgery to prevent further fluid buildup in the patient’s ears.