Ear Congestion

Ear congestion results in a vague feeling of ear pressure or fullness in the ear together with muffled hearing. The most common cause is Eustachian tube dysfunction, while other causes such as underlying diseases should be also paid attention to.

Ear congestion usually refers to a vague feeling of ear pressure or fullness together with some degree of muffled hearing in the absence of any ear pain. Occasionally, some crackling noises might also be heard in ear congestion.

Causes of Ear Congestion

Most Common Causes of Ear Congestion

The most common reason for eat congestion is Eustachian tube dysfunction. Air travel can also lead to this condition. Detailed information of these two causes is showed below.

  • Eustachian tube dysfunction-Ear congestion is usually caused by blockage of Eustachian tube. Eustachian tube is a tube connecting the middle ear cavity with the oral cavity and it helps in equalizing the air pressure in the middle ear cavity with the air pressure in the environment. Eustachian tube opens during yawning, swallowing and chewing. This Eustachian tube dysfunction most commonly occurs because of common cold and usually lasts about a week. Eustachian tube dysfunction can also occur because of any other infection in the oral and nasal cavity and can also be caused by allergies (like hay fever, rhinitis, etc.)
  • Air travel-It can also occur after an air travel. Descent of aircraft causes a sudden increase in air pressure which may result in pressure imbalance between the middle ear cavity and the outside. Simple yawning and chewing is often sufficient to open up the Eustachian tube and cause pressure equalization during aircraft descent. Severe imbalance can sometimes result in ear pain due to barotrauma.

Less Common Causes of Ear Congestion

Few other less common causes of ear congestion are listed below. Ear congestion in these conditions persists for many weeks and is usually accompanied by few other symptoms.

  • Sinusitis
  • Meniere's disease (an inner ear disorder causing hearing and balance disturbances)
  • Cholesteatoma (skin cyst in the middle ear)
  • Acoustic Neuroma (tumor of the nerve connecting the internal ear to the brain)
  • Fungal infection of the external ear,
  • Serous Otitis Media (a specific type of middle ear infection characterized by watery discharge)
  • Afflictions of the jaw joints (temporomandibular joints)
  • Cerumen impaction in the ear canal.

Treatment of Ear Congestion

Treatment of ear congestion is dependent upon the cause. Usually, ear congestion will require no special medications and it generally resolves spontaneously within few days.

  • Ear congestion due to temporary dysfunction of Eustachian tube is often relieved by yawning, chewing, swallowing or swallowing with the nose closed by pinching.
  • Decongestant nasal sprays can be used for Eustachian tube dysfunction if the above measures are not effective. They should not be used for more than 5 days.
  • Frequent ear congestion due to allergies requires anit-histamine medications and other anti-allergic measures (avoiding allergen, medications like corticosteroids, etc.).
  • Treatment of special cases of ear congestion due to other rare causes will be focused on the treatment of the primary condition.
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