Ear Nose | Otorhinolaryngology | Pressure in Ear (Symptom)
Pressure in Ear: Description
A rapid change in altitude and thus air pressure is equalized across the eardrum by a normally functioning Eustachian tube. A healthy tube opens frequently and widely enough to equalize these changes in air pressure.
Pressure in Ear: Causes
Pressure in ear is therefore caused by a malfunctioning of the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. The primary function of the Eustachian tube is to ventilate the middle ear space, ensuring that its pressure remains at near normal ambient air pressure.
The secondary function of the Eustachian tube is to drain any accumulated secretions, infection, or debris from the middle ear space. It opens and closes when a person swallows or yawns, allowing the pressure to equalize between the middle ear and the outside world. When it does not work properly, negative pressure develops in the middle ear, making the ear feel blocked.
Partial or complete blockage of the Eustachian tube can cause sensations of popping, clicking, and ear fullness and occasionally moderate to severe ear pain. Common causes for Eustachian tube problems include: allergies, colds. sinus infections, barotraumas (injury to the ear from changes in atmospheric pressure)
When the Eustachian tube is severely impaired, fluid can build up in the middle ear. This causes hearing to decrease. A middle ear infection can do the same. After the infection clears, the blockage can go on until the Eustachian tube is back to normal.
Pain and swelling around the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) often cause a blocked sensation in the ear. The exact cause of this sensation is not clear. A change in hearing, such as sudden hearing loss, can also make the ear feel blocked. The condition called otosclerosis (abnormal formation of spongy bone in the ear) can block one’s hearing.