Ear infections causes, symptoms, and treatment


Ear pressure is the sensation of fullness or stuffiness within the ear. It occurs when the eustachian tube of the ear becomes blocked or stops functioning correctly.

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The eustachian tube is a thin tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. This tube helps balance air pressure on both sides of the eardrum. It also helps clear out middle ear secretions.

The eustachian tube opens when a person chews, swallows, or yawns. This helps prevent air pressure from building up inside the ear.

Certain conditions can disrupt the function of the eustachian tube, however, resulting in ear pressure và symptoms such as pain, discomfort, và hearing problems. Depending on the cause, some additional symptoms may also be present.

This article outlines some potential causes of ear pressure and their associated treatments. It also provides advice on when to see a doctor for ear pressure problems.

Sinus congestion

Share on PinterestInhaling steam may help lớn relieve ear pressure.
The sinuses are a network of hollow cavities inside the skull. Their primary function is to lớn produce mucus, which helps moisturize the nasal passages and trap pathogens from the air a person inhales.

Sinus congestion is the medical term for an accumulation of mucus in the sinuses. Some potential symptoms of sinus congestion include:

green or yellow nasal mucusa reduced sense of smellpain, swelling, or tenderness around the cheeks, eyes, or forehead

A person may develop sinus congestion as a result of the following:


Treatments for sinus congestion include:

inhaling steamusing saline nasal washestrying decongestant nasal spraysusing topical nasal corticosteroidsapplying a warm compress to the nose và foreheadundergoing surgery for chronic sinus congestion
Ear infections

Certain infections of the ear can cause ear pressure. The following sections will outline some of these infections.

Middle ear infection

A middle ear infection, or otitis media, is an infection behind the eardrum. The condition causes fluid lớn build up behind the eardrum, & this can result in ear pressure.

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Some potential symptoms of a middle ear infection include:

ear painfluid draining from the eara feeling of fullness in the ear

Although anyone can get a middle ear infection, it is more common in infants.


Some treatment options for a middle ear infection include:

trying medicated ear drops

Fungal infection

A fungal ear infection occurs when fungi inside the ear proliferate. Such infections are more likely khổng lồ occur in people who have a reduced amount of earwax due to an overuse of Q-tips.

Fungal ear infections can cause the following symptoms:

discoloration or scaling of the outer earitchinessTreatment

Some potential treatment options for fungal ear infections include:

having a doctor clean the ear using swabs, a suction tube, or a syringeusing antifungal ear drops to lớn control the infection

Swimmer’s ear

Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is an infection of the ear canal. The infection typically occurs when water becomes trapped inside the ear. The excess moisture can lead khổng lồ an overgrowth of bacteria và fungi.

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear can include:

itching inside the earflushing or swelling of the skin around the earinner ear pain that gets worse if a person pulls on the outer eara feeling that the ear is blockeddrainage from the eardecreased hearingswollen lymph nodes around the ear or upper neckintense pain in the neck, face, or side of the headfeverTreatment

Some treatment options for swimmer’s ear include:

cleaning the ear canaltrying medicated ear dropstaking antibiotics for bacterial infections

Rapid changes in altitude and pressure can block the eustachian tube. As a result, the tube will be unable to lớn equalize pressure inside the middle ear with the pressure outside of the body.

The difference in pressure causes a vacuum that stretches out the eardrum. This may lead lớn the following symptoms:

ear pressureear paina buildup of fluid in the eartemporary hearing lossdizziness

Changes in altitude can occur during a number of activities, including:

traveling by airusing an elevatorscuba divingdriving up and down mountains


Some potential treatment options for ear pressure caused by changes in altitude include:

yawningswallowingpinching the nose & blowing gently, then swallowingchewing gumsucking a hard candyusing decongestants

Earwax helps clean, protect, and lubricate the ear canal. However, earwax can occasionally build up and cause a blockage against the eardrum. This can result in the following symptoms:

earachea feeling of fullness in the earmuffled hearingpartial hearing loss that becomes worse with timeringing in the ears, or tinnitusitchingdischargeodorpaininfection

Earwax buildup is often due lớn a person using Q-tips or similar items to try to remove their earwax. This process actually pushes the wax deeper into the ear canal.


Treatments for earwax buildup include:

placing a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, or glycerin inside the earusing OTC ear dropsusing an OTC ear syringing kit or having a doctor syringe the earhaving a doctor remove the wax manually

Occasionally, objects can become trapped inside the ear canal. Children are particularly likely lớn insert items into their ears out of curiosity or as a means of exploration.

Such items commonly include:

beads và buttonspieces of crayontoyssmall batteriesfood

Foreign objects stuck in the ear can cause the following symptoms:

ear painflushing of the skin on the earear drainagehearing loss


Objects stuck in the ear will require removal. A doctor can usually remove objects in one of the following ways:

using tweezers or forcepsusing magnets, if the object is metallicflushing the ear with waterusing a suction machine

Meniere’s disease is characterized by a buildup of fluid in the inner ear. The condition typically affects only one ear, but it can sometimes affect both.

The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown. However, allergies và autoimmune conditions may increase a person’s risk of developing it.

Some potential symptoms of Meniere’s disease include:

hearing lossa sensation of fullness in the affected ear or ears


There is currently no cure for Meniere’s disease. Instead, treatments focus on controlling dizziness & vertigo.

Treatment typically includes:

following a diet that is low in salttaking a water pill, or diuretictaking anti-vertigo medication to help stop acute flaresreceiving medicated injections into the eardrumundergoing surgery

A cholesteatoma is a growth or cyst that becomes trapped behind the eardrum or by the bone behind the ear. Cholesteatomas begin as a buildup of earwax và skin debris. They most often develop due lớn poor ventilation in the middle ear.

Cholesteatomas can cause the following symptoms:

earache or paina feeling of fullness in the earfoul-smelling ear drainagehearing lossrecurring ear infectionsdizzinessfacial muscle weakness on the side of the affected ear


Treatment of a cholesteatoma will generally involve the surgical removal of the growth or cyst.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge that connects the side of the skull to the lower jaw. If the TMJ sustains any damage, it can cause significant pain.

TMJ pain may occur in the:

earstemplescheeksmuscles of the lower jawteeth

Other potential symptoms associated with TMJ damage include:

jaw lockingdifficulty opening the mouth fully frequent headaches or neck achestinnitus


Some potential treatment options for TMJ pain include:

eating soft foodsnot chewing gumnot clenching the teethwearing a mouthguard at nightapplying a warm compress to the jaw khổng lồ relax the musclesapplying an ice pack to the jaw to reduce inflammationtaking anti-inflammatory drugs

Ear pressure can occur due khổng lồ sinus congestion, infections, or TMJ damage, among other conditions. It can also occur as a result of situational factors, such as changes in altitude or having a foreign body toàn thân stuck inside the ear.

Some causes of ear pressure are treatable using OTC medications and home remedies. Others may require specialist treatment from a doctor or surgeon.

A person should see a doctor if they experience persistent ear pressure, especially if it occurs alongside other troubling symptoms. A doctor will work to lớn diagnose the cause of the symptoms and provide appropriate treatments.