Finding Relief from Ear Pressure

November 15, 2019 8:49 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Have you ever felt like your hearing was sort of muffled? Like something was pressing on your eardrums? You’re experiencing a rather common phenomenon called pressure in the ears. It’s an uncomfortable feeling that can be caused by any number of issues. As a trusted provider of hearing exams and audiological services in California, Valley Hearing Center has worked with clients who struggle with ear pressure regularly. 

Today, we’d like to explore some treatment options for relieving that ear pressure.

But Why Are You Feeling Pressure in Your Ears?

Before we start offering treatment options, it’s important to have an understanding of why you’re feeling that pressure in the first place. Your ear is made up of numerous parts and pieces. When you feel pressure, that’s being experienced in your middle ear, which is reacting to pressure from the outside environment differently than the rest of your ear. Within the middle ear are your eustachian tubes, which are responsible for regulating pressure. 

You have an eustachian tube in each of your ears. These tubes open and equalize the pressure when you yawn or swallow. However, when these tubes are blocked or become narrowed, this can cause a build-up of pressure that doesn’t go away through normal means. 

This build-up of pressure in the eustachian tubes can be caused by any number of things. Commonly, it’s caused by temporary irritants, like changes in altitude, colds and allergies, a buildup of earwax, or sinusitis. Other, less common, causes include cholesteatoma, acoustic neuroma, fungal ear infection, or temporomandibular joint disorders.

Symptoms of Ear Pressure

When you’re experiencing discomfort from ear pressure, you’ll be diagnosed with a condition called ear barotrauma. Typically, this isn’t a harmful condition, but may cause complications if left untreated, and can be disorienting and uncomfortable if experienced for a long period of time. 


Generally, the symptoms of ear pressure will present themselves in a variety of ways. You might feel dizzy, experience some difficulty hearing or a loss of hearing, or feel like your ear is stuffed up or full. More severe cases might have symptoms like ear pain, nosebleeds, severe hearing loss, or injury to the eardrum.

Relieving Pressure in Your Ears

Determining the right way to relieve the pressure you’re experiencing starts by figuring out what’s causing the pressure in the first place. If you suspect it’s because of a disease or illness, it’s best to schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists in California. If it’s a common cause, you may be able to treat the issue at home. For more unusual cases, you’ll need to work with a specialist.

Common Causes

Addressing the pressure caused by altitude changes can quickly be remedied by yawning or swallowing. Often, this is enough to open up your eustachian tubes and equalize the pressure. You can also rely on over-the-counter decongestants like nasal sprays. 

If it’s a cold or allergies, you may be able to take OTC medications and antihistamines in order to address the pressure. There are a number of options that can help to address these issues. Colds and allergies often present in the form of sinus congestion. Taking a decongestant and pairing it with an OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to address the pressure and any related inflammation.

If there’s a build-up of earwax, you can use a solution like mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide to help clear away the excess ear wax in your ear canal. You should not use tools to clear away the ear wax unless you’re working with a trained doctor. 

Uncommon Causes

Cholesteatoma is when skin grows within your middle ear. This condition may be present from birth or could be a result of frequent ear infections. The only effective way to treat cholesteatoma is to have the excess skin surgically removed. These conditions do not go away naturally and may grow and lead to further complications if left unchecked.

Acoustic neuroma is a rare condition where a benign tumor develops on the eighth cranial nerve. This nerve transmits signals from the brain and aids in balance and hearing. Ear pressure is a common symptom of this complication. In some cases, treatment may not be required. To stop the growth of the tumor, a doctor may use stereotactic radiosurgery. For larger, more aggressive tumors, it may require invasive surgery to prevent it from spreading to the brain.

Fungal ear infection, or otomycosis, might occur in individuals with weakened immune systems, or even in healthy individuals. This is a common infection for those of us who live in warm California. For those who swim often, or have a condition like diabetes, it might be more common. This condition can be treated in a number of ways. Some seek out a careful cleaning from their ear doctor, make use of a medicated ear drop or oral medication, use an antifungal topical on the outside of the ear, or use a diluted hydrogen peroxide treatment. 

Your TMJ connects your jaw to your skull, and the exact cause of these disorders is still unknown. TMJ issues can be treated with a combination of at-home options and doctor-recommended treatments. This includes things like eating softer foods, avoiding chewing intensive foods like gum, and reducing stress. Your doctor may prescribe a pain medication or muscle relaxant or suggest you receive a corrective dental treatment.

Schedule Your Hearing Exam Today

If you’re experiencing extended periods of ear discomfort, or are worried about the quality of your hearing, it’s time to schedule a hearing exam at one with one of our caring audiologists. Valley Hearing Center has multiple convenient locations throughout California.

Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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This post was written by Cassidy

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