In this blog post, we will delve into a common concern that many patients encounter: the sensation of pressure in the ear. Feeling pressure in the ear can cause discomfort, impaired hearing, and even affect one’s quality of life. 

Let’s delve into its potential causes, and common symptoms, and learn how to manage or treat pressure in the ears. 

Causes of Pressure in Ears

There are various causes attributed to feeling pressure in ears, such as:

  • Eustachian Tube Dysfunction: The Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the throat, playing a crucial role in regulating air pressure within the ear. When these tubes fail to open, pressure imbalances can occur leading to a sensation of fullness or pressure in the ears. 
  • Middle Ear Infections: Infections in the middle ear (otitis media) can also be attributed to pressure in ear. When a person has an ear infection, inflammation and fluid buildup can occur, causing discomfort and a sense of pressure. 
  • Ear Barotrauma: This is a condition where the pressure inside the ear fails to equalize with the external pressure. This commonly occurs during activities that entail changes in air pressure like scuba diving, flying in an airplane, or driving through high-altitude areas. If not properly managed, barotrauma can lead to pain and potential damage to the eardrum. 
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder: The temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull, and is responsible for facial movements like chewing and speaking. When this joint gets inflamed or experiences dysfunction, it can radiate discomfort to the surrounding areas, including the ears. TMJ disorder can cause pressure in ears, pain, clicking sounds in the jaw, and difficulty opening or closing the mouth.
  • Earwax Blockage: This is one of the simplest causes of pressure in ears. A buildup of earwax can obstruct the ear canal, creating a sensation of pressure inside the ear. If earwax is found to be the culprit of ear pressure, an audiologist can perform professional earwax removal or ear cleaning to get rid of the blockage. 

How do you get rid of ear pressure?

To relieve pain or discomfort from ear pressure, you may try the following techniques:

  • Swallowing, yawning, or chewing: Simple mechanisms like swallowing, chewing, or yawning can help open the Eustachian tubes and equalize the pressure in your ears. 
  • Nasal decongestants: If your ear pressure is caused by a sinus infection or nasal congestion, using over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays or oral decongestants may provide relief. However, it would be best to consult a healthcare professional before using any medication.
  • Warm compresses: Applying a warm compress to the affected ear can help alleviate discomfort and promote relaxation. The gentle warmth can help in relieving pressure and soothing the surrounding tissues.
  • Saline nasal irrigation: Using a saline nasal solution can help clear congestion and reduce pressure in the ears. Use a nasal rinse bottle or a neti pot to flush out the nasal passages. Make sure to follow proper instructions to ensure safety and effectiveness.
  • Avoiding irritants: If you suspect that allergies are contributing to your ear pressure, try to identify and avoid potential triggers. Common irritants include perfumes, dust, pet dander, cigarette smoke, pollen, and certain chemicals. 

Take note that while these self-care strategies may provide temporary relief from pressure in ears, persistent or severe ear pressure should be evaluated by an audiologist. 

Audiologists are trained to assess your condition, identify the underlying cause, and recommend appropriate treatment options tailored to your specific needs and complaints.

Is pressure in the ears serious?

Ear pressure is generally considered a non-threatening condition, although it can be associated with more serious causes like acoustic neuroma. 

Simple remedies such as yawning and swallowing can often provide relief. However, if the ear pressure persists or becomes bothersome, it is advisable to seek medical attention for further evaluation and appropriate treatment.

Audiologists in Huntsville, Alabama

Alabama Hearing Associates is an audiology clinic providing comprehensive hearing tests, hearing aids, professional earwax removal, and other audiology services to patients of all ages.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with the best audiologists in Huntsville, Alabama!

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Dr. Jan Liles

Dr. Liles earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Montevallo and her master’s degree from the University of Alabama. From 1991 to 2001, she worked with two ENT medical practices and initiated one of the first newborn hearing screening programs in the state. In 2002, she was awarded a doctorate in audiology from the University of Florida. Dr. Liles and her longtime best friend, Dr. Sheehy, founded Alabama Hearing Associates in January 2002.