When you're suffering from ear pressure, it can be one of the most annoying things. It's not really painful, especially on a pain scale – but it is annoying, and it can have other side effects that can be even more difficult to deal with. How to relieve ear pressure depends on the cause of your ear pressure – knowing the cause is your first defense in getting rid of ear pressure immediately.
Causes of Ear Pressure
Before you can figure out how to relieve ear pressure, you need to know what the cause is. There are two main issues that may be giving you that pressure, and possibly pain. They include sinus congestion and air pressure – which can both have multiple causes.
Air pressure happens when there is excess pressure in the middle ear, which is normally the same as the air pressure outside of your body. There are different reasons for a change in this pressure, which can include going up in a plane or driving in high altitudes.
If you know which of these is causing your ear pressure, you can begin to take steps to fix the problem. The idea is to relieve the pressure or what is causing that pressure.
How to Relieve Ear Pressure from Air Pressure
The Eustachian tube is what connects the middle ear to your nose and throat, and it is through this connection that you can find some relief from air pressure when it's causing your ear pressure.
Symptoms of this type of ear pressure include the following:
- A feeling of pressure in one or both ears (it might feel like you're underwater)
- Feelings of dizziness
- Slight loss of hearing in one or both ears
- Discomfort, and sometimes even pain, in one or both ears
In severe cases, you could suffer from prolonged ear pain, moderate hearing loss, and even nosebleeds. If you let the pressure build up and don't do anything to relieve it, it can lead to bruising of the eardrum.
The pressure in your ears is equalized when you yawn, which allows air to flow into your mouth, through the Eustachian tube, and into the middle ear. However, the Eustachian tube can get blocked, which causes a change in pressure – which is called barotrauma.
The most common causes of barotrauma are upper respiratory illnesses and altitude changes. In the case of altitude changes, this uneven pressure can happen when flying, driving through the mountains, and when scuba diving.
If you're looking for immediate relief from ear pressure that has been caused by an altitude change, here are some of the hacks that will help you:
- Try chewing gum – The motion of chewing can help get your ears to pop and equalize pressure. If you don't have gum, try making chewing motions without actually chewing anything.
- Suck on hard candy – Sucking motion can also dislodge a block in the Eustachian tube. Pick something sugar-free to keep your teeth healthy.
- Yawn, or pretend to anyway – Yawning is the body's natural way of equalizing pressure, so give it a try (you may need to do it numerous times).
- Plug your nose and breath out – Take a breath in, then plug your nose and keep your mouth closed while slowly breathing out.
If you often suffer from ear pressure when you fly, or you're an avid scuba diver, there are some things you can do to protect yourself ahead of time. Avoid sleeping on a plane during takeoff and landing. When scuba diving, always take your time going down and coming back up.
Normally, symptoms can be relieved through those bhacks already mentioned – if that doesn't work, you may want to see your doctor. Severe barotrauma can require antibiotics, and sometimes steroids. In rare cases, it can require surgery,
How to Relieve Ear Pressure from Sinus Congestion
When your sinuses are congested, this can cause ear pressure, too. How to relieve ear pressure from sinus congestion starts with dealing with your sinuses.
Symptoms of sinus congestion include:
- Stuffy nose
- Sinus pain
- Trivial hearing loss
- Ear pressure
Until you deal with what's causing your sinus congestion, your symptoms won't subside. When one of those symptoms is ear pressure, it can cause even more dizziness issues and a problem concentrating. Your ear pressure could be caused by a cold or by allergies.
Here are some ways on how to relieve ear pressure that is caused by sinus congestion:
- Take a decongestant – Decongestants can be easily purchased over the counter and come in pill and nasal spray form. If your congestion is severe, you may be able to get a more potent prescription from the doctor.
- Increase nasal moisture – Stuffed-up and dry sinuses can cause pain and pressure – try using a humidifier, using some hot steam, or just get in the shower and run some hot water for 15 minutes. You can also try a Neti Pot, which will help cleanse and moisten your sinuses.
- Stay hydrated – Not only will hydrating your nasal passages help with ear pressure, but drinking water helps as well. This thins your mucus, which can help get things moving again.
- Deal with the pain – If your sinus and ear pressure come with pain, don't put up with it – take a painkiller. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen will help reduce pain, so you can be more clear-headed while fighting the other symptoms.
- Blow your nose – You may be able to relieve the blockage that is causing your ear pressure by properly blowing your nose. The key is to block off one nostril and blow the other very gently.
There are some things you don't want to do when you are suffering from sinus congestion that is causing ear pressure. These include:
- Avoid extreme temperatures – Spending time outdoors on a hot or freezing day can increase the pain and
pressure from a sinus-ear problem.
- Avoid strenuous activities – You may want to get your exercise routine underway, but that workout could aggravate your sinus problems for many reasons (extreme body temperature changes, bending downward movements, etc.).
- Avoid bending down – When you bend forward or bend your head down, it can increase the pressure in your ears and sinuses. Skip yoga class until your sinuses are clear again.
- Avoid traveling – You don't have to skip a trip to the grocery store, but you shouldn't be flying on any planes until your sinus issues are cleared up. Avoid other things that can trigger ear pressure, like diving.
- Take things slowly – Even if your ear pressure isn't causing you to be dizzy right now, fast movements could trigger that symptom. Don't shake your head or turn too fast.
When to See the Doctor About Your Ear Pressure
Give yourself a week to get over the cold you have or start taking antihistamines to combat your allergies that cause ear pressure. If you're still suffering after a week, call the doctor. If your symptoms go away for a few days and then come back again, it's also time to talk to a doctor.
What you need to do will really depend on the severity of your ear pressure. If you're unable to control the pressure and pain with hacks at home, the doctor may be your only option for relief. It still makes sense to deal with it on your own, at first, if possible – saving an office visit for more severe symptoms.
Final Thoughts on How to Relieve Ear Pressure
When you need to know how to relieve ear pressure, you need to remember to start with why you're having the problem. If it was caused by flying or diving, you can use hacks like chewing gum for immediate relief. If your problem is caused by seasonal allergies or a cold, medication will be the one thing that can help you get immediate ear pressure relief.