ZocdocAnswersIs it normal to have pressure built up in your ear?

Question

Is it normal to have pressure built up in your ear?

I am a 30 year old male and am having this ear problem.  Sometimes I can't hear all that well out of one ear because there's pressure built up in it so I will pop that ear by putting one hand on my nose and pinching it shut, then blowing air up towards my nose.  This sort of clears up my ears a little so I can hear better, but the clog always comes back.  Now I have a habit of popping my ears all the time.  Is this normal and how can I fix this?  

Answer

This is a very unfortunate problem that can negatively affect your quality of life. Additionally, in your case, it sounds as if it is causing you to develop a bad habit as well. The feeling of fullness in your ear generally results from dysfunction of the eustachian tube. The eustachian tube is the channel that connects your ear to the back of your throat. As the channel, and your inner ear, is lined by mucous producing cells like the rest of your mouth, this mucous is constantly draining through the channel and then being swallowed. When this tube is blocked, the fluid backs up (or even just the air that is trapped in the tube is a different pressure that can't equilibrate), and you feel that uncomfortable feeling. The answer is to pop your airs by forcing the eustachian tube open, as you do regularly (habitually, even). What causes the tube to be closed? Infections, inflammation, past injury that caused scarring, or just your nature are common causes. What can be done about it? Either continue as you are and hope that things improve, try over the counter cold remedies to help decrease the production of mucous (and maybe some of the inflammation at the tip of the tube), and, best of all, talk to an ear-nose-and throat surgeon (aka, otolaryngologist) to see if there is anything else going on and what you can do specifically to address this problem.

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

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