All You Need To Know About Ear Pressure Causes and Remedies
We all at one time in our lives felt pressure in the ears. The sensation can be quite uncomfortable and it can seem as if one or both of your ears are clogged or plugged up. There are several and varying possible causes of pressure in the ears, including altitude changes, the buildup of earwax, and even a sinus infection. This article discusses what causes pressure in the ears, how you can relieve the pressure, and when it might be time that you see your doctor.
See here for information about swimmer's ear.
Why You Feel Pressure in the Ears
You feel pressure in your ears when the pressure inside your middle ear area varies from that of the outside environment. Some affected individuals have described it as a feeling of stuffiness, discomfort, or even fullness. Tiny tubes which are called Eustachian tubes, and which are components of the ear, function to regulate the pressure that is in your middle ear. You have one of these tubes on each side of the head.
Typically, the tubes are opened when you perform everyday actions like yawning or swallowing. Their action getting opened is what naturally equalizes the pressure that is in your middle ear. When these tubes become blocked or narrowed for whatever reasons, either as a result of a condition or disease, then you might begin to feel ear pressure which does not go away on its own.
Diagnosis of Ear Pressure
In the majority of instances, the symptoms of ear pressure would clear up before you even see your doctor. Nevertheless, if your pain is severe or constantly reoccurring, or you are bleeding or have fluid leakage from the ear, then you must see your doctor immediately. The doctor will demand to know when the symptoms happened to see whether they relate to changes in water or air pressure. He will then check you for any ear infections and also examine your eardrum as well as the inner part of your external ear canal to seek any signs of ear pressure.
If your eardrum appears pushed out or in, it could be an indication of ear pressure. Your doctor checks this by applying a tiny burst of air into your ear to seek blood or fluid buildup behind your eardrum. In certain instances, the condition shows no physical evidence. After the examination, your doctor discusses the best treatment options as well as the next steps.
The Most Common Causes of Ear Pressure
There is a wide range of varying possible causes for ear pressure. Here is an explanation of some of the most common ones.
- Change in Altitude
When you change altitude, the Eustachian tubes might not have the needed time to appropriately adapt to the correspondent change in pressure. Excellent instances of when this could occur include while riding up the elevator in a tall high-rise building, driving through the mountains, or even when flying in an areophane. Also, divers might go through ear pressure while they are descending. The pressure from the water that is surrounding them pushes on their middle ear. This is why divers are always taught how to descend slowly and also equalize the pressure in their middle ear by ventilating or breathing via their Eustachian tubes.
Sinusitis occurs when the sinuses, which happen to be the hollow spaces that are on your face, are inflamed. Often, this happens as a result of a viral infection, even though in some certain instances, bacteria could also bring it about. When your sinuses become swollen, you might also feel fullness or pressure in the ears. This shows that sinusitis could bring about ear pressure.
- Ear Infections
Also, an ear infection could end in, ear pressure.
- Otitis Media: This is an infection of the middle ear which, happens when the Eustachian tube is not draining fluids as properly as it should. The resultant buildup of fluid could then end up promoting the growth of bacteria or viruses that are capable of bringing about an infection. If that happens, then it can put pressure on your ears.
- Swimmer’s Ear: This is an infection that occurs to the outer part of your ear. It is usually brought about by a kind of bacteria that is found in water. Even though the infection affects your outer ear, individuals who are suffering from swimmer’s ear might also feel pressure on the ears as a result of the buildup of fluid as well as swelling.
The nasal congestion and nasal inflammation that accompanies a cold could also end up affecting your Eustachian tubes. This then goes on to prevent them from equalizing the pressure that is within your middle ear as properly as they should. Once they are unable to equalize the pressure, you then feel ear pressure.
A condition that is known as allergic rhinitis could occur in individuals who are allergic to molds, pollen, or even pet dander. This is capable of bringing about the buildup of mucus and inflammation of the person’s nasal passages. Just like it is with colds, this is also capable of affecting your Eustachian tubes too. And once it has affected them and negatively influenced their function of equalizing your middle ear’s pressure, you end up with pressure in the ears.
- The Buildup of Earwax
Earwax is naturally produced by the human body and it is meant to safeguard the inner parts of the ear. Typically, earwax moves through the ear canal to reach the outer ear where it then flakes off eventually. A buildup of too much earwax could end in the ear canal being blocked. And, it is a fact that once the canal is blocked, then there will surely be pressure on the ears.
- Foreign Objects
Also, having any foreign object stuck inside the ear could bring about the occurrence of ear pressure and pain. This particular cause could be a bit more common in small kids, who are likely to sometimes put foreign objects into their ears, mouth, or nose. This is as they are always playing with varying objects which, as kids, they might not understand could end up being stuck in their ears.
- SSHL – Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This condition occurs quite infrequently: just 1 in between 10,000 and 15,000 individuals gets affected by this condition. Typically, it takes just between a few minutes and days to appear and has to be taken as a medical emergency. Frequently, the sudden loss of hearing is preceded by a ‘pop’ and the patient then goes on to notice dizziness, a fullness of the ears, or tinnitus. There are more than 1000 possible causes of this condition, and the sooner that the patient seeks expert medical attention, the better the chances he has for fully recovering lost hearing.
The Uncommon Causes of Pressure in the Ears
There are also some causes of pressure in the ears which are not quite common. Here is an explanation of the foremost ones among them.
- Meniere’s Disease
Meniere’s disease is a health condition that typically affects a person’s inner ear. It is brought about by fluid buildup inside the person’s inner ear. This could end up affecting things such as how the sounds that you hear can send signals to your brain and your balance. Typically, the condition affects just one of the two ears. When a person has the condition, then the symptoms could include severe dizziness, ear pressure, or even hearing loss.
This condition comes about whenever skin happens to grow abnormally inside a person’s middle ear. It could happen to be present right from birth, or due to ear infections occurring too frequently in the same person. Apart from ear pressure, other possible symptoms that the condition could show include;
- Drainage that gives off a foul smell.
- Hearing loss.
- Acoustic Neuroma
This is a benign tumor that settles on a person’s eighth cranial nerve. The eighth cranial nerve is the nerve that is accountable for transmitting signals that involve hearing and balance to your brain. The condition is quite rare but it is not unseen. One of the major symptoms of the condition is hearing loss in the ear that has been affected, nevertheless, ear ringing and ear pressure in the person’s ears could also occur.
- Fungal Ear Infection
Fungal infections that occur to the ear are also known as otomycosis. The condition could occur in even healthy individuals. Nevertheless having an underlying condition like diabetes or an immune system that’s weakened is capable of putting you at significantly higher risk. One of the foremost symptoms of the condition is feeling as if your ear is blocked. Other symptoms include discharge, pain, and itching.
- Chronic Otitis Media
Chronic otitis media occurs when an infection that has affected the middle ear keeps coming back or it does not resolve. The condition could be accompanied by things such as a persistence of the occurrence of fluid in the affected person’s middle ear, the presence of cholesteatomas, or even a ruptured eardrum. Complications that could probably arise from this condition include;
- Damage to the affected person’s facial nerves.
- Hearing loss.
- An infection of the bone that is also known as mastoiditis.
- TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorders
The TMJ is what connects the jaw to the skull. When TMJ disorders occur in a person, they affect this joint negatively. The actual cause of several disorders is not clear, nevertheless, some could be brought about by damages that occur to the joint or the cartilage that surrounds it. The major symptom shown by TMJ disorders is discomfort or pain, either in the face, jaw or even around the ears. Also, the person can end up with pain inside the ear.
How to Relieve Yourself of the Ear Pressure
The treatment that will work for your ear pressure will be dependent on which of the listed causes is bringing it about. Let us take a look at some of the ways for treating the most common causes of the condition.
- Changes in Altitude
Swallowing or yawning could help to get your Eustachian tubes opened and the pressure of your middle ear equalized. Also, you might want to take OTC (over the counter) decongestant spray for the nose into consideration. Nevertheless, you should ensure that you steer clear of utilizing decongestants for your children.
- The Buildup of Earwax
Earwax could be taken out of the ears by utilizing solutions like hydrogen peroxide or mineral oil to dissolve any earwax that has accumulated inside the ear canal. Also, some specialized tools could be used in removing the earwax manually, nevertheless, this should be undertaken only under the supervision of a qualified professional doctor.
- Sinus Congestion
To obtain relief from sinus congestion, you could utilize OTC decongestants which can either be sprayed into your nose or taken orally. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) are capable of helping to relieve swelling or pain. Also, it might also help if you use a neti pot to perform nasal irrigation.
- Ear Infections
Some of the ear infections that cause ear pressure could even resolve themselves without any antibiotic treatment being used. Eardrops or OTC pain medications might be recommended to help in easing the pain. If it is suspected that you have a bacterial infection, then antibiotics that are made to be taken orally or those that are made to be given in the form of eardrops could be prescribed.
Over the counter corticosteroid, nasal sprays (Nasonex, Flonase) or antihistamines (like Zyrtec or Claritin) are capable of helping in relieving the symptoms of allergy. Also, you might also want to take using a neti pot for nasal irrigation into consideration.
- Blockage As A Result Of Foreign Objects
If you have any foreign object in your ear that’s causing you ear pressure, then you can perform any or a combination of the following things at home. Remember, these are only first aid measures;
- Have your head tilted to the side so that you can utilize gravity to get the object to come out.
- If the object’s in your ear is visible, then you can utilize tweezers to take it out very gently.
- You can also try to get the object washed or flushed out by utilizing a tiny syringe together with warm water to get your ear canal gently irrigated.
- The Buildup of Fluid
Conditions such as colds and allergies are capable of affecting your Eustachian tubes, thus bring about fluid buildup in the middle of your ear. Also, this fluid could end up being infected too, thus bring about otitis media. Getting the condition that is responsible for the buildup of fluid cured, should help in having the buildup drain. Nevertheless, in instances in which there is a prolonged buildup of fluid in a person’s ears, it might then become necessary to undergo a surgical procedure to have it help in draining the fluid and decreasing the pressure that is on the ear.
Surgical Procedures for Treating Chronic Ear Pressure
If you have ear pressure issues too frequently, your doctor might have to recommend a surgical treatment and procedure. Let us now explore some of the possible options of that.
During this surgical procedure, the doctor makes a tiny incision inside the eardrum. The fluid that has accumulated inside the middle of the ear is then taken out quite carefully. Typically, the incision that has been made is left to remain open until the blockage or swelling that has occurred to the Eustachian tubes eventually goes away. You can undergo this surgery procedure with ear tubes or without them.
- Ear Tubes
The placement of tubes into the middle ear is quite similar to the myringotomy surgery procedure except that after the incision has been made and the fluid drained, a small plastic or metal tube is then inserted into the patient’s eardrum. The tube could be kept steadily in place so it helps to relieve pressure and also prevent the buildup of fluid.
Even though both of these procedures do help in relieving ear pressure, they also feature their downsides. In some certain instances, the incision that has been made in the eardrum might refuse to heal, thus having to eventually be surgically repaired. Also, individuals who have tubes inside their ears must ensure that they keep water out of the ears. They do this by utilizing cotton balls or earplugs while they are bathing or swimming.
How You Can Know If You Have Ruptured an Eardrum
A ruptured eardrum has occurred when you have a tear in the eardrum. The eardrum is the piece of thin tissue that functions to separate the ear canal from the middle of the ear. A wide variety of different things can cause the rupture of the eardrum, including foreign objects, ear infections, and stress from the differences in pressure between the outside environment and the middle ear.
You have to make sure that you contact your doctor if you happen to be experiencing any of the varying symptoms of an eardrum that has been ruptured. Some of the foremost symptoms you should always look out for include;
Prevention of Ear Pressure
- Hearing loss. Hearing Aids can help for this.
- Feeling of dizziness (vertigo) or a sensation of spinning.
- Ear pain which comes on and then goes away again quite quickly.
- Drainage coming out from the ear, which could be clear, bloody, or even contains pus.
- Having the sensation of ringing inside your ears.
There are certain things you can do to help in the prevention of the occurrence of ear pressure. If have any kind of congestion from allergies or even a cold, then you might want to consider delaying scuba diving, swimming or flying in an airplane. Or, you could take medications like antihistamines or decongestants. This might help in getting your ears to equalize more easily and in preventing ear pressure. There are some certain methods you can use in an attempt to get your Eustachian tubes opened during any changes in altitude you might be experiencing, and they include;
- Closing your mouth, pinching your nose, and then going on to act as if you are going to breathe out via your nostrils.
- Utilizing specialized earplugs whenever you are going to be flying in an airplane.
- Frequent swallowing.
- Chewing candy or gum.
Ventilation tubes are one other option for some individuals whose Eustachian tubes do not function properly, or for individuals who have to fly quite often. Also, the tubes could greatly benefit you if you require hyperbaric oxygen therapy for healing wounds. A professional and expert surgeon gets the tubes placed in your eardrum, and they’re able to effectively help in preventing the occurrence of any future differences in pressure (the tubes will not be able to prevent ear pressure that is caused by diving).
When You Should See a Doctor
There are some instances in which your ear pressure might have gone so far that the best option for you would be to see your doctor. You should ensure that you schedule an appointment to see your doctor if, you are experiencing ear pressure which;
- It comes accompanied by symptoms such as fever, bleeding from the ear, severe pain, or even dizziness.
- Goes on for a prolonged period or becomes worse despite some at-home treatments you have tried.
- It is happening as a result of a foreign object which can’t be taken out by using any of the techniques for at-home first aid.
In conclusion, feeling ear pressure is somewhat common. It occurs as a result of things like colds, altitude changes, and allergies. Typically, you can treat its causes at home via yawning or swallowing to ‘pop’ the ears, or by taking over-the-counter medications. Nevertheless, if you discover the symptoms persisting or becoming worse, with at-home treatment, then see a doctor to hold a discussion as regards the condition. It is hoped that this article has helped you to better understand ear pressure.