ZocdocAnswersMy left ear has been popping for a few days and I can't hear out of it. What should I do?

Question

My left ear has been popping for a few days and I can't hear out of it. What should I do?

The last time I changed elevation or was on a plane was a month ago, and the popping has just started in the past week and a half. I do not feel like I have an ear infection.

Answer

I would recommend going to see your primary care doctor. It does sound like you have something going on inside the ear, and your primary care doctor will be able to examine things closely and help you figure out what you need to do. The most likely possibility is that you have some fluid built up behind the ear drum. This is called a "serous effusion" and it can occur after an upper respiratory infection or in setting nasal allergies or sinus congestion. Generally, serous effusions do not need any specific treatment as they tend to get better on their own; however, it is good to have a diagnosis, because more chronic cases may need referral to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Another possibility is that you may have wax buildup in the external ear canal. When this occurs, this can lead to trouble hearing. It is less likely to cause the 'popping' sensation that you are feeling than fluid behind the ear, but it is still a possibility that needs to be resolved. Your doctor can take a look inside your ear and throat and reach a diagnosis. If medications are necessary, they will be able to provide them for you. Please schedule an appointment soon!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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