Ear Pressure: What You Should Know

Have you been experiencing pressure in your ear? Maybe your ear feels “full.” You could be experiencing ear congestion.

Ear congestion is generally caused by your eustachian tube(s). Either your eustachian tube is blocked by something, or it isn’t functioning properly. Your eustachian tubes, also known as the pharyngotympanic tubes or auditory tubes, are small tubes that run between your nasopharynx in your upper throat and your middle ear space. They help to equalize the pressure in your middle ear. Your eustachian tubes generally remain closed, except for when you’re swallowing, chewing or yawning.

If your eustachian tube cannot open fully, it’s unable to equalize pressure in your middle ear. When this happens, you may experience symptoms of discomfort, a feeling of fullness in your ear, dizziness, or tinnitus.

What Causes Ear Congestion?

Any condition that can affect your sinus can result in ear congestion. The most common causes of ear congestion include:  

  • Common Colds: Nasal congestion is a common, but unfortunate side effect of common colds. In some cases, this congestion can block your eustachian tube. This results in ear congestion.
  • Ear Infection: If you have an ear infection, you could experience muffled hearing. This is often the result of pus in your middle ear, causing a blockage.
  • Fluid: If you get fluid in your middle ear, for example when you’re swimming or bathing, you may experience ear congestion. You can help prevent this by wearing ear plugs.
  • Blowing your nose too hard: If you blow your nose too hard, you can push mucus into your ear tube. Avoid this by blowing your nose gently.
  • Allergies: Allergies can cause ear congestion if mucus gets trapped in your middle ear or eustachian tube. Taking allergy medication often helps to relieve congestion.
  • Airplane Ear: Change in air pressure can cause your eardrum to stretch, especially if your eustachian tube is already blocked. If you’ve ever experienced pain in your ear when flying, you’ve experienced this stretching! Yawning or swallowing can help to equalize the pressure.
  • Medical Conditions: Although not as common as some other causes, some medical conditions can result in ear congestion. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms for a week or longer, we recommend visiting your local healthcare clinic.
  • Earwax: In some cases, a buildup of earwax can cause ear congestion. Your local hearing healthcare practitioner can help clean your ears.

How Can You Relieve Ear Pressure from Congestion?

Most cases of ear congestion are caused by a blocked eustachian tube. Clearing your eustachian tube will, in most cases, relieve the congestion. To help, try:

  • Chewing or swallowing – Pinch your nose and swallow water. This simple action can create a vacuum in your nose, pushing your eustachian tube open. You can also try chewing gum.
  • Decongestant Spray – A decongestant spray can be an effective way of helping ear congestion.
  • Allergy Medicines – If your ear congestion is the result of allergies, allergy medication may help.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Most cases of ear congestion will clear in 48 hours. You should see a doctor if your ear congestion:

  • Has lasted longer than a week
  • Accompanies a fever
  • Accompanies fluid draining from your ear
  • Is causing hearing loss
  • Is causing severe ear pain
  • Is causing balance problems

Get Your Hearing Health Checked Today!

Have you been experiencing ear congestion? If you’d like to book in a check-up, please get in touch with the hearing healthcare team at Hearing Aid Specialists of CT. Click here to request an appointment online, or call our team on 888-657-5768.

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