Ear pressure

Causes, symptoms and remedies

All about ear pressure

Plugged ears, ear congestion, or feeling of ear pressure, are terms that generally indicate a subjective sensation of ear fullness affecting one or both ears. These symptoms are often associated with an alteration or a reduction in hearing ability, sometimes described as muffled hearing.

What causes ear pression?

If the feeling of pressure in the ear occurs without external influences, an infection is usually the cause. Because the earache pressure and also the feeling of the closed ear also arise when the eustachian tube is blocked, for example, by the increased formation of mucus from a cold or an allergy (e.g. hay fever). In contrast to changing air pressure from the outside, pressure is often only created on one ear. Regardless of whether it is one-sided or in both ears: pay attention to typical, accompanying infection symptoms such as pressure in the head and ears and possibly fever and body aches. Ear pressure is often the first symptom of:

Indeed, the feeling of a full ear is often interpreted as the subjective symptom of endolymphatic hydrops, which affects and is a key phenomenon of Ménière's disease. It is due to the increase in a liquid (endolymph) which is contained, in very small quantities, within the bodies responsible for controlling balance (labyrinth). The endolymph increasing in volume causes tinnitus, a reduction in hearing ability but also dizziness. This symptomatic triad, together with the feeling of a full ear, characterizes Ménière's syndrome.

Equalising ear pressure

In the airplane and in high-speed trains, the cabins are built so that they almost completely exclude the outside pressure. Nevertheless, most people feel pressure on their ears. Earplugs can be helpful for particularly sensitive ears (like children). Due to their elasticity, they reduce the pressure on the eardrum and can help prevent earache after your flight. The pressure on the ears after a flight is particularly delicate when there is still water in the ear (e.g. from swimming shortly before departure). Inflammation of the middle ear is then easier. Here, too, children are affected more often; one solution could be earplugs for swimming.

Divers must learn to equalize pressure. The pressure on the ears increases with every meter that they go deeper. In order to prevent sustained damage to the ear, a so-called barotrauma, the pressure must be removed from the eardrum. If your ear feels closed, after a flight, when going up a lift, or after tunnel passages in fast trains, these techniques make sense:

  • open your mouth wide and move your jaw until you hear a faint crackling or crackling in the ear;
  • yawn on purpose;
  • close your nose and press air from your lungs into your mouth and nasal cavity with your mouth closed;
  • swallow and chew;
  • chewing gum is a good way to keep ear pressure equalization when flying. If techniques for pressure equalization in the ear remain ineffective, and the problem persists for more than two days, you should ask your ear, nose and throat doctor for advice.
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Remedies and treatment for ear pressure

Sometimes home remedies such as chamomile tea and of course the techniques for pressure equalization are often sufficient for pressure on the ears. Decongestant nasal spray for ear pressure is particularly useful because it ensures the ventilation of the ear, relieving the pressure and making it difficult for germs to settle. The old tale of putting nose drops in the ear is not recommended.

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