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How Do I Get Rid of Ear Pressure?

Chewing gum can relieve ear pressure caused by changes in barometric pressure.
Taking antibiotics can relieve ear pressure caused by an ear infection.
A man yawning to pop his ears.
Infections of the middle ear can create ear pressure.
Scuba divers and aviators usually get rid of air pressure by swallowing as they ascend or descend.
It may be necessary to seek a doctor's help if dealing with ear pressure issues.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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Ear pressure may feel like one or both ears are muffled, as though hearing is slightly impaired. It may easily resolve on its own in some cases, or it could require treatment, depending on cause. When ear pressure is caused by air pressure changes, it can usually be resolved chewing gum, swallowing, or yawning; if you have a cold or allergies, taking decongestants or antihistamines may help. For other conditions, like ear infections, a trip to the doctor may be needed. There are a number of things that may cause ear pressure, so before you attempt to solve it on your own, you may want to have a medical professional examine your ears to see if there is an obvious solution.

One very common cause of ear pressure is changes in barometric pressure. When people change altitude quickly, problems can occur in the Eustachian tubes and the ear can feel blocked. Many people have this sensation when they're on airplanes, and some will even feel it if they quickly climb a mountain in a vehicle. Divers also can experience extreme ear pain when they descend into water.

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Many people will have this problem automatically correct itself once they return to standard elevation levels, but sometimes ear damage can occur. The condition is usually best treated by chewing gum, swallowing, or yawning, which helps the Eustachian tubes open up; taking decongestants or antihistamines prior to ascents or descents can also help, especially if you have a cold or allergies. Some people find that holding the nostrils shut and breathing out gently through the nose, especially while tipping the head back and away from the affected side, can solve the problem. Ongoing ear pain that does not resolve itself warrants a doctor's visit, however.

Middle ear infections may create ear pressure, and these may require some help to fix. Antibiotics are the most common way in which pressure caused by infections is resolved; once the infection is treated, pressure problems should go away. In other cases, you might not have a infection but may have chronic sinus issues or allergies that make your ears feel full and blocked. These may be treated with decongestants, nasal rinses, or antihistamines that help reduce sinus swelling due to mucus accumulation or irritation.

Sometimes, ear pressure can be caused when the ear has too much wax build-up. Those who use cotton swabs should beware if they use these to clean out the ears, which is never advised. From time to time, people will knock a bit of wax right onto the eardrum, which may create a feeling of pressure or the sensation that they can't hear out of one ear. Other times, the whole ear becomes blocked with wax and creates muffling and pressure.

There are earwax cleaners on the market. These usually involve using an oil to break up the wax, and then irrigating the ear with a solution to clean out the wax. Some people have waxier ears than others and may benefit from doing a cleaning once every few weeks, or as often as a doctor advises. A medical professional can also use a special tool to remove the wax by hand.

Another potential cause of ear pressure is swelling of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), also known as the jaw joint. Seeing a dentist may be the best way to address problems caused by this joint, although it's not always known why swelling of the jaw joint creates pressure in the ears. An additional rare cause is actually the result of the bone in the ear forming improperly. This is called osteosclerosis, and it can sometimes cause tinnitus or ringing in the ears as well.

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Discuss this Article

anon941534
Post 19

I think I have a sinus infection and today I blew my nose and ruptured one of my ears, and now my face and my right ear is killing me. I can't wait until I see the doc tomorrow.

anon924522
Post 18

Whenever I touch my left ear, I feel as if some pressure is created inside my ear. Why am I feeling like that ?

feasting
Post 15

@seag47 – Allergies can cause just about as many problems for your ears as for your nose. Whenever I get a bad cold, it usually winds up affecting my ear pressure, too.

A cold has a lot of the same symptoms as allergies. A very runny nose and an annoying cough are always present for me, and after a few days, it seems that some of the mucus has gone into my ear canals.

It usually clears up after a couple of weeks. I've never gotten an ear infection from a cold, and I don't even know if this is possible.

Kristee
Post 14

Sometimes I get water trapped in my ears after swimming. I have a pool, and I love floating on my back in it, but water always goes in my ears and doesn't always come out.

I've tried using drops to dry up the water, but they only work sometimes. Once I start having ear infection symptoms, I have to see a doctor.

The pressure makes it hard for me to hear, usually in just one ear. The doctor gives me antibiotic ear drops that work wonders.

seag47
Post 13

I struggle with allergies, and I am prone to sinus infections. These seem to start in my nose and travel to my ears later.

I start having dried mucus get clogged way inside my nose. When I blow it out, it is bright yellow or green.

Also, when I blow my nose, it can increase my ear pressure. I often feel a sharp pain in the ear that is on the corresponding side of the nostril I just blew.

I have to get antibiotics to treat the sinus infection before my ears can get any relief. Any time that my doctor looks in my ears and sees trapped fluid, she knows I need the antibiotics.

orangey03
Post 12

I have to chew gum whenever my husband and I drive from Mississippi to New York to see his family. I am used to fairly flat land, and even so much as a little hill makes the pressure in my ears increase.

When I see that we are coming up on a hilly road, I start chewing gum. This way, I can stop it before it starts.

anon290777
Post 11

I have a blocked ear and I have tried everything: swabs, ear wax stuff and chewing gum. I am going to the doctor but was wondering what might be the problem?

anon266573
Post 9

I have visited a hill station. Due to high pressure, I could not hear and both my ears were hurting. Now I'm back in town, but my ears are making these sounds like air is passing through them and I cannot hear clearly. Will my ears be OK?

anon166290
Post 6

Pete, I have the exact same symptoms. I went to the doctor today and they couldn't find anything wrong. Have you had any luck figuring it out?

anon134781
Post 5

I have constant ear pressure and have tried just about all the remedies without any relief. It feels like i am descending in an aircraft but can't get the ears to pop, strange try this, my hearing is acute, very sensitive and sharp noises like kids in the pool laughing or squealing make me uptight and unsettled. Any thoughts on this as it is driving me nuts? i don't have any noise in the ears though. regards Pete

googie98
Post 4

@momothree: Another thing that you can try that works well for sinus ear pressure is to close one of your nostrils and blow your nose very gently. Do not blow hard as it can cause ear pain.

If you feel as though the pain is from sinus pressure, you can try a decongestant or some nasal spray.

If those things don’t work, you should really go visit your doctor. You don’t want to traumatize your ear canal with too many home remedies.

OceanSwimmer
Post 3

@momothree: One thing that will help is to try to yawn. That helps open the Eustachian tube which allows pressure in the middle ear to equalize with the air pressure around you.

Another thing that you can try is chewing gum or hard candy. That allows movement in the Eustachian tubes.

momothree
Post 2

Great article but what are some things that I can do at home for ear pressure relief? I feel inner ear pressure and it feels like my eardrum needs to pop.

PurpleSpark
Post 1

I had a lot of wax build-up in my left ear. My friend asked me if I had ever "candled" my ears. Of course, I didn't have a clue what that was.

We took off to our local herb shop and bought these ear candles. We used a paper plate to stick the candle in and then I had to lay my head down on the table with my left ear up.

She lit the candle and it immediately started pulling wax out of my ear. It is absolutely amazing.

I use it on my children now.

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