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About Sinusitis & hearing problems

Earache, clogged ears, tinnitus & hearing loss

About the explanation, symptoms & connection to hearing problems of sinusitis

Sinusitis and ear problems? It may seem strange, but sinus infections can also cause the ears to feel plugged. If this condition is not treated immediately, increased pressure in the middle ear can lead to a perforation of the eardrum and discharge from the ears.

What is meant by sinusitis?

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses - the small, bone-shaped cavities that connect to the nose. When they swell, mucous accumulates triggering sinusitis. Causes can include bacterial, fungal or viral infections as well as an enlargement of one's turbinates (bumps on the inside walls of your nasal cavity). Irritants, such as smoke, chlorine or dust particles, can cause blockage in your sinuses due to swelling. Allergies may also contribute; when the inflammation causes a build-up of mucous it creates conditions favorable for allergies developing.

Symptoms of sinusitis

Sinusitis can cause a variety of symptoms, including headache, pain in the face and eye area, watery eyes, coughing at night, fever and nasal congestion. In addition to these general symptoms, hearing (or ears) may also be affected. This is because the infection can reduce air flow into the Eustachian tube (the canal that connects the ear to the nasopharynx), resulting in a feeling of cotton wool inside your ears- like they are "closed". Tinnitus, or ringing in your ears, can also be a symptom of sinusitis.

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Problems with the ear due to sinusitis

Ear pain due to sinusitis

Sinus infections and earaches are closely related: the accumulation of mucous in the sinuses can cause pain in the ears due to pressure. The sinuses typically swell up and become blocked with fluid, leading to discomfort or pain in one or both ears.

Blocked ears during sinusitis

If you're experiencing pain in your ear due to a sinus infection, it's likely that the Eustachian tube is blocked. This increase in pressure can cause discomfort and even make it difficult to hear. What should you do if this happens during an episode of sinusitis? You can clear by:

  • Applying a warm compress to your nose and forehead
  • Using a saline nasal spray several times a day
  • Avoiding extreme temperature
  • Drinking plenty of fluid
  • Using a humidifier
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and tobacco products

(Pulsatile) tinnitus due to sinusitis

Sinusitis can cause nasal congestion, which in turn causes tinnitus – a ringing noise that you hear. This type of ringing usually happens due to an increase in blood flow, and it is relatively uncommon. However, sometimes pulsatile tinnitus (a form of ringing where you notice the sound of your own heartbeat) occurs during sinusitis; this occurs when the pressure on your eardrum increases as a result of mucous buildup in your sinuses.

Loss of hearing during sinusitis

Hearing problems caused by sinusitis are due to the presence and the spreading of an ear infection. An ear infection often causes fluid buildup, which increases pressure on the eardrum, leading to hearing loss and a feeling that your ears are blocked. The symptoms usually go away as inflammation decreases; however, this process can take some time.

Treatment methods for a sinusitis

Sinusitis can be treated with medications. Depending on the severity, different remedies may be prescribed by a doctor. The following is a list of some common treatments that help relieve sinus congestion:

  • Antibiotics if there's evidence of an infection (only if required).
  • Nasal sprays to reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroids to reduce swelling and redness.
  • Painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease discomfort.
  • Antihistamines (if sinuses are triggered by allergies)
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