What Is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
It is likely that youve experienced pressure in your ears at some point in your lifetime. Its an uncomfortable sensation that feels like one or both of your ears are extremely full, clogged, or plugged up with fluid. While there are plenty of possible reasons to experience pressure in the ear, the most common include allergies, sinus infections, earwax buildup, and changes in altitude when youre scuba diving or descending on an airplane. If youre wondering why someone always tells you to swallow when experiencing pressure in the ears, here is why.
What Is The Link Between The Sinuses And The Ears
Sinus pressure in ear: Congestion of the sinuses often leads to a feeling of pressure in the ear, as a result of an accumulation of fluid in the ear canals. This occurs despite the absence of a direct connection between the sinuses and the ear. The Eustachian tube, which is a narrow passage connecting the ear and throat, drains the middle ear into the part of the throat that is behind the nose called the nasopharynx.
Eric L. Winarsky, M.D. contributes to topics such as Otolaryngology.
Cold and flu season isnt quite over yet. If you have congestion that includes sinus pressure, you may have a coldor it could be a sinus infection. How can you be sure that its one or the other, and when is it time to make an appointment with your doctor?
Eric L. Winarsky, M.D., an otolaryngologist and surgeon with Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group, helps answer the 5 most Googled questions about nasal inflammation and sinus infections.
If you feel pressure behind your eyes and cheeks, have a worsening headache, cough, fever, bad breath, fatigue, decreased sense of smell or taste, nose bleeds, clogged ears and/or postnasal drip, you may have a sinus infection and nasal inflammationand not just a cold.
As such, there is no silver bullet or one pill to take that can alleviate all the symptoms.
When To Call Your Doctor
Most of the time, these are all safe and effective methods, Dr. Goldman says, but depending on the cause, these methods be unsafe and could even cause damage.
If youre traveling in high altitude changes or know youre in the midst of an allergic flare-up, your clogged ears likely arent a problem and should resolve pretty quickly. But clogged ears that persist or are accompanied by other symptoms can indicate a more serious issue. Pay attention to issues like:
You May Like: Severe Sinus Headache Home Remedy
Open Your Mouth And Yawn
Yawning can help you open up the eustachian tube and equalize the air pressure in your ears.
Some people may find this easy because they can yawn whenever they want to. However, it is not easy for others. You can try to make a fake yawn, which will still give you the desired result.
Open your mouth and speak âaaaaa,â you will hear the âpopâ sound in your ears. You can try to make yourself yawn by looking at a person who is yawning. Think about yawning your body will likely do it afterward. Sometimes not breathing enough can also cause you to yawn.
Ever Experience A Popping Noise That Originates In Your Sinuses
If you are hearing SNAP, Crackle, and Pop each time you talk, breath, or blow your nose you probably have rhinitis. This could be due to allergies. To get your allergies solved WITHOUT the shots, go to Wyndly.com to get tested. or https://www.wyndly.com/products/at-home-allergy-test-kit?sca_ref=1952085.SdHoz0mvAo
If you dont think its allergies, it could be something else. Some describe the noise as a popping noise, others refer to it as a sinus infection clicking sound that emanates from the nose, jaw, ear, or cheek area. Others have described this noise as sounding like a bubble on a bubble wrap paper popping. People who experience a clicking sound or popping noise from these areas usually are already experiencing some discomfort around their nose or sinuses. Acute sinusitis, or a sinus infection can bring a great deal of mucous and fluids into the sinus cavities bringing a myriad of noises when these move around through the blowing of the nose, or just normal breathing. When your sinuses are blocked by inflammation and/or infected mucous the ear canals become almost like an amplifier for the nose.
Don’t Miss: Acid Reflux And Sinus Congestion Treatment
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- My ears feel full and dont feel better when I yawn. Could I have Eustachian tube dysfunction?
- What can I do to make my child more comfortable?
- My child has Eustachian tube dysfunction. Does this mean they will have ear infections?
- Is there anything I can do when I travel to make myself more comfortable?
- Could my allergies make Eustachian tube dysfunction worse?
- What is the best way to treat my Eustachian tube dysfunction?
How To Treat Crackling Popping Or Clicking Noise In Ear
It is completely natural for your ears to make popping or clicking noises when you swallow. Air needs to pass through your Eustachian tubes to control the pressure in your ears and help maintain proper balance.
What should you do if an ear infection, a buildup of wax, changing altitudes, or other reasons cause fullness in your ears as if they are clogged? Here are some natural ways to unpop your ears and relieve the feeling of fullness in your ears.
Read Also: Do You Sneeze With Sinus Infection
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
People with ETD may experience a number of warning signs. Common eustachian tube dysfunction symptoms include:
Eustachian tube dysfunction symptoms may get worse in higher altitudes. This is called barotrauma, and it can happen while scuba diving, flying in an airplane or driving in the mountains.
Try These Two Breathing Maneuvers
You may not know the medical terms for these two actions, but if youve ever had clogged ears, theyre probably among the first things youve tried. The pressure these two maneuvers create can help open your Eustachian tubes.
- The Valsalva maneuver: Close your mouth and pinch your nostrils closed. Then, breathe out forcefully but dont let any air escape through your mouth or nose.
- The Toynbee maneuver: Close your mouth, pinch your nostrils closed and swallow.
Research shows that these two methods have about the same success rate at unplugging, or popping, your ears.
You May Like: What Helps Sinus Pressure Headache
How Can A Sinus Infection Affect Your Ears
Most sinusitis-related ear problems, including tinnitus, are caused by the congestion that occurs during a sinus infection. To better understand this phenomenon, lets take a second to review a few facts about sinusitis.
Sinusitis most frequently occurs when a virus or bacteria irritates the tissues of your sinus cavities. This irritation can lead to swelling which, in turn, can lead to mucus buildup and congestion.
Your sinus cavities and ears are interconnected systems, so congestion in the sinuses can create ear congestion, as well. Congestion in the ear may block the tube known as the Eustachian Tube that connects the middle ear to the outer ear and helps regulate pressure within the ear. When the Eustachian Tube is blocked, the pressure is allowed to build up around the eardrum, which is ultimately what causes ringing in the ears, aka tinnitus.
Whether you have an acute sinus infection or a sinus infection that wont go away, so long as the congestion is severe enough, it can cause tinnitus.
Also Check: Dehydration Ears Ringing
Do You Know What Causes Ears To Crackle When Swallowing
When you swallow, the air pressure in your middle ear cavity suddenly changes. This change in air pressure causes the eardrum to vibrate and you hear a cracking sound.
2. What do you think might be the cause of this problem?
It could be a number of things. It might be due to a nutritional deficiency, dehydration, or even an infection. If its been going on for a while, it might even be due to an underlying medical condition. I would recommend seeing your doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment.
3. Are there any ways to prevent ears from cracking when swallowing?
Yes, there are a few ways to prevent ears from cracking when swallowing. One is to drink through a straw this helps direct the liquid towards the back of your throat rather than towards your ears. You can also try tilting your head to the side when you drink, which will help the liquid flow away from your ears. And finally, make sure you swallow saliva frequently while drinking this will help lubricate your ears and make them less prone to cracking.
4. What are the risks associated with this problem?
Read Also: Do I Need Medicine For A Sinus Infection
What Are Blocked Eustachian Tubes
When you swallow or yawn, the tubes open briefly to let air in to make the pressure in the middle ears equal to the pressure outside of the ears. Sometimes fluid or negative pressure gets stuck in the middle ear. The pressure outside the ear gets too high. This blockage causes ear pain and sometimes trouble hearing.
Tips To Prevent Sinus Infections
In order to avoid ear pain and temporary hearing loss due to clogged ears as a result of sinus infections one must prevent sinus infections. Here are some tips to help you prevent sinus infections and avoid the complications associated with it.
- Control your allergies.
- Keep hydrated, which keeps mucus thin.
- Reduce alcohol consumption, which can worsen mucus.
- Minimize exposure to people with cold or flu.
- Always wash your hands and avoid germs.
- Avoid chlorinated swimming pools.
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Get Sinus Headaches Everyday
How To Relieve Ear Pressure
Ear pressure relief for a cold or flu: Well, the underlying illness needs to clear up first, Dr. Del Signore says. You can usually wait it out by trying to relieve congestion and swelling in your nose and throat, the culprits keeping your eustachian tubes from opening and releasing pressure4. Over-the-counter decongestants that contain phenylephrine or oxymetazoline can be used for up to three days to help relieve pressure. Both of these ingredients are commonly found in nasal spray and they work by reducing swelling in the blood vessels in the nose to help unblock any stuffiness, per the NLM.
Ear pressure relief for allergies: As in the case above, ear congestion caused by allergies will improve when your allergy symptoms calm down. There are numerous allergy treatments you can try, including some home remedies, OTC meds , or prescription meds if your symptoms have become annoyingly persistent. If youre constantly bogged down with seasonal sniffles, you may want to consider seeing an allergist so you can ask about allergy testing and long-term treatment options.
Ear pressure relief for an ear infection: Sometimes, an ear infection clears up without treatment after two to three days of symptoms, but antibiotics are typically needed to treat persistent infections, according to the CDC. Swimmers ear nearly always requires antibiotics and sometimes oral steroid medications to help reduce inflammation.
Sinus Infections And Other Health Effects
Aside from ear pain and dizziness, a sinus infection can also cause temporary hearing loss. Sinus-related hearing loss occurs when the infection spreads to the ears, specifically the middle ear. Hearing can become affected if inflammation puts pressure on the ear drum. This inflammation can cause discharge of fluid and the build-up of fluid in the eardrum, which leads to pain and temporary hearing loss.
When the fluid and pressure are relieved the hearing loss will reverse, and you can go back to hearing how you previously did, prior to the infection. If the fluid does not drain commonly seen in children the continuous pressure can cause the eardrum to burst, which contributes to permanent hearing loss.
Its important to prevent sinus infections as well as treating them right away, so that you dont encounter any complications.
Other health complications that can stem from a sinus infection are headaches and throat problems, such as coughing or a sore throat.
Related: Natural treatments to unclog ears
Also Check: How Can I Get Rid Of A Sinus Headache
How Do You Open A Blocked Ear
If your ears are plugged, try swallowing, yawning or chewing sugar-free gum to open your eustachian tubes. If this doesnt work, take a deep breath and try to blow out of your nose gently while pinching your nostrils closed and keeping your mouth shut. If you hear a popping noise, you know you have succeeded.
Throat Irritation And Cough
As the discharge from your sinuses drains down the back of your throat, it can cause irritation, especially over a long period of time. This can lead to a persistent and annoying cough, which can be worse when lying down to sleep or first thing in the morning after getting up from bed.
It can also make sleeping difficult. Sleeping upright or with your head elevated can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your coughing.
Don’t Miss: Advil Or Tylenol For Sinus Pressure
Why Do Ears Pop
Normally, swallowing causes a little click or popping sound in the ear. This occurs because a small bubble of air has entered the middle ear, up from the back of the nose. It passes through the Eustachian tube, a membrane-lined tube about the size of a pencil lead that connects the back of the nose with the middle ear. The air in the middle ear is constantly being absorbed by its membranous lining and re-supplied through the Eustachian tube. In this manner, air pressure on both sides of the eardrum stays about equal. If, and when, the air pressure is not equal the ear feels blocked.
The Eustachian tube can be blocked, or obstructed, for a variety of reasons. When that occurs, the middle ear pressure cannot be equalized. The air already there is absorbed and a vacuum occurs, sucking the eardrum inward and stretching it. Such an eardrum cannot vibrate naturally, so sounds are muffled or blocked, and the stretching can be painful. If the tube remains blocked, fluid will seep into the area from the membranes in an attempt to overcome the vacuum. This is called fluid in the ear, serous otitis or aero-otitis.
The most common cause for a blocked Eustachian tube is the common cold. Sinus infections and nasal allergies are also causes. A stuffy nose leads to stuffy ears because the swollen membranes block the opening of the Eustachian tube.
Bonus Tip For Alleviating Sinus Pressure In The Ears:
Avoid exposure to tobacco smoke, air travel,
Trying one or a combination of these remedies for sinus pressure in the ear should help bring you some relief. These simple sinus remedies can help alleviate the pain and pressure you experience in your ears. Just be aware that this could develop into a sinus infection.
If there is a persistent problem with sinus pressure in your ears, call to make an appointment today with the ear nose, and throat doctor.
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Chronic Sinus Infection Naturally
Ear Infection Or Sinus Infection Treating Your Symptoms Quickly
By raphael, January 2, 2019
Sometimes its hard to know whether you are experiencing an ear infection or a sinus infection because of the similarities in symptoms. Both diagnoses involve significant pressure or pain in the head/neck area and both infections may trigger a fever response in your body.
So, why is it important to know whether youre suffering from a sinus infection or an ear infection? Because the treatment option selected will only be effective if you have the right diagnosis.
Heres how to decide whether youre experiencing a sinus infection or an ear infection and how your ear, nose, and throat doctor can help along the way.
Patulous Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
Patulous Eustachian tube dysfunction is a disorder of the valve of the Eustachian tube that causes it to remain open. When this valve remains open, sound can travel from the nasal-sinus cavity to the ears, allowing you to hear your own voice or your own breathing too loudly, or even the sound of blood pumping. Patulous Eustachian tube dysfunction can also alternate with .
Don’t Miss: Cold Vs Flu Vs Sinus Infection
Safe Ways To Relieve Clogged Ears
Your body usually balances the air pressure on both sides of your eardrum. When the pressure changes between the middle ear and the outside, you will feel like your ears are plugged. If there’s a lot of pressure change, it might even hurt.
In some cases, the air in your middle ear can have trouble adjusting to the pressure. This can happen when you are diving in water or flying in an airplane. It could even happen when you drive up or down a steep mountain.
Your middle ear usually adjusts to the pressure difference eventually. When it does, you will feel your ears pop. Sometimes you may need to help equalize the pressure by yawning or swallowing.
Certain medical conditions may impact your ability to pop your ears. When this happens, you may need to see a healthcare provider.
This article discusses why your ears sometimes feel plugged and how you can pop them. It also explains some of the conditions that may make it difficult to pop your ears.