Many of us have felt pressure in our ears at some point in our lives. When it occurs, ears feel clogged up and blocked and can be uncomfortable. This usually occurs when the pressure in the middle ear is different from the pressure in the outside environment. The change in pressure occurs when the small tubes called eustachian tube does not function correctly.
The eustachian tube connects the nasal cavity to the middle ear. All individuals have a pair of tubes which helps to regulate the pressure within the middle ear. Normally, the tube opens up when we swallow or yawn, thus helping to naturally equalize the pressure. If the tube becomes narrow or blocked due to a disease or a condition, we may feel the pressure within the ears, and it would not go away naturally.
When the height changes suddenly, the eustachian tube will not have the time to adapt to the change in pressure. This can be noted while flying in a plane, scuba diving, riding an elevator in a tall building, etc. Yawning or swallowing can help to open the tubes and equalize the pressure.
Sinuses are empty spaces in our faces. Sometimes, they can become filled because of viral infections or bacterial infections which results in their swelling. This swelling can also result in a feeling of pressure in the ear. Using a nasal decongestant will make us feel better in such situations It is advisable to consult your ENT specialist.
Ear infections like otitis media occur when the eustachian tube is not draining the ear properly. Fluid build-up occurs promoting the growth of infections such as bacterial and viral. People with the condition called swimmer’s ear, which is a problem of the outer ear, also report pressure in the ear. Medications must be taken to tackle the infection and resolve the pressure buildup in the ear.
Nasal inflammation and congestion that comes with the cold or even allergies from pollen, moulds, pets, etc. which causes inflammation in the nasal cavity can prevent pressure equalization in the ear. Antihistamines will help to subside the allergies and will provide instant relief.
Normally, earwax runs down the ear canal and clears off. However, when the buildup is too much it blocks the ear canal completely resulting in a feeling of ear pressure. An ENT doctor will be able to clear the excess wax from the ear. One should refrain from using earbuds as they can push the wax further inside the ear canal.
In addition to the above-mentioned causes, some other uncommon causes of a feeling of ear pressure include Meniere’s disease, cholesteatoma, tumour in the ear, fungal infection, chronic otitis media and jaw disorders. If you are facing pressure in your ears constantly, do consult an Audiologist or an hearing aid clinic to resolve the problem at the earliest.