Home Ear, nose and throatEar diseases and infections Pressure in the ears: causes and treatment

Pressure in the ears: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The feeling of pressure in the ears can be annoying, and, in some cases, it can be a problem that puts your hearing at risk. It is often a question of inadequate pressure compensation during a flight or the ascent of a mountain. It can also be a muscle problem, but other times it is a more complicated disease that affects balance and is the cause of this discomfort.

The ears are complex formations. The sensation of having the ears plugged or something tightened may be related to the hearing aid and involve some of the other parts of the body that are associated with or are close to it.

Learn more about pressure in the ears: causes and treatment in this FastlyHealarticle, where you will answer your question about why you feel anxiety and your ears are plugged with all the reasons we present.

Pressure in the ears from problems in the respiratory system

The middle ear is part of the upper respiratory system, as it is connected to the back of the nose through a small tube called the Eustachian tube, and there is one for each ear. The function of this conduit is to help the pressure that exists inside the ear to be equal to that that exists in the outside environment, to assist in that way to transmit sound.

When the nose, sinuses, or pharynx become inflamed or have some other type of problem, this pressure compensation is complicated, which you may notice:

  • Plugged ears.
  • You don’t listen well.
  • You can feel your voice as if you were speaking inside a jar.
  • You listen to your sounds more than the outside ones (when you eat, for example).

These discomforts will improve only if the pressures are compensated again, that is, if the cause that causes the problem is resolved: treating allergic rhinitis, rhinosinusitis, or gastroesophageal reflux pharyngitis.


When the cause persists, and there is an infection or an obstruction that keeps the Eustachian tube closed, otitis can be caused. Otitis can be acute if you have the following symptoms:

  • Pain in one ear
  • Plugged ear sensation.
  • Suppuration from the ear.
  • The heat inside the ear.
  • Fever.

Chronic otitis can be identified by deafness or suppuration, depending on the subject.

Otitis is quite common in children. It is one of the most common causes of temporary hearing loss, especially in children who do not breathe well through their noses.


Treatment should be aimed at resolving the cause of inflammation or obstruction, so a good diagnosis by an otolaryngologist is essential. That medical treatment for plugged ears may consist of:

  • Nasal washes with physiological solution or seawater must be done frequently and correctly. This helps in most cases.
  • Improve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis: a nasal spray with local corticosteroids may be indicated.
  • Correct obstructive disorders: enlarged tonsils and adenoids, deviated septum, nasal polyps …
  • If negative pressure persists in the ears despite correcting the obstructive disorders, there are resources to balance it: a small tube can be placed temporarily in the tympanic membrane. It is a simple procedure but one that brings great benefits.
  • Good nutrition is key to allergies, infections, and reflux: avoiding eating dairy and gluten will result in a significant improvement in symptoms, even if the diet is as natural as possible with fruits and vegetables, fermented fruits dried, and seeds.

Barotrauma is a cause of pressure in the ears.

Barotrauma appears as the same problem that has just been described since it is caused by pain in the nose or airway and, for that reason, the ear cannot adequately compensate for the pressures in activities of daily life.

Most often, this problem occurs with sudden pressure changes, such as:

  • When climbing a mountain.
  • During take-off/landing of an airplane.
  • In a deep dive into the water.

It is because the pressure on the outside changes, and the ear cannot accommodate its forces simultaneously.

Barotrauma treatment

In this case, the important thing is to improve the respiratory system so that on those occasions, the pressure in the ears can be compensated typically, with which a consultation with a specialist can help you identify the leading cause of your problem.

The primary measures that you can take if you are going to travel by plane or climb a mountain are:

  • Deflate the airway the days before (with the measures mentioned in the previous section: cleaning with physiological solution or seawater several times a day, nasal spray, dietary changes).
  • When takeoff or landing, you should chew gum, drink water, or put sour candies in your mouth, which will help you frequently swallow, setting the muscles that open the Eustachian tube in motion.
  • Never push inward to uncover them (many do it by using force while plugging their noses and closing their mouths). This is very dangerous and can seriously hurt your ear.

An ear cholesteatoma can cause a sensation of pressure.

Cholesteatoma is an abnormal collection of tissue within the inner ear. It is often a type of chronic otitis of the middle ear, similar to that described in the previous section.

The symptoms that a person with cholesteatoma has are:

  • Frequent ear discharge that does not improve.
  • A sensation of a blocked ear or hearing loss.
  • Vertigo.
  • Severe infections can spread to other nearby areas.

Cholesteatoma treatment

The problem will not be solved only by improving the Eustachian tube since the accumulation of tissue is so great that it can only improve if it is surgically removed.

On other occasions, this cholesteatoma is already present from birth. In that case, it is called congenital cholesteatoma. It is rare, and, as has been said, the treatment is surgical.

Jaw joint problems

The jaw or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is next to the ears. When there are problems in the same due to wear or, more commonly, muscle contractures and bruxism, different symptoms may occur that suggest that it is the ear that is in problems, such as:

  • A sensation of something pressing in the ears or on the sides of the head.
  • Earache.
  • I felt like my ears are plugged.
  • I am itching in the ears.
  • Headache.
  • Noises in the ear.
  • Dizziness


You can improve this type of disorder by seeking help from a TMJ specialist (they are often dentists), as they will assess precisely what is happening. You can also take some measurements at home:

  • Exercise: bruxism is often associated with stress, and this, by not being able to be released, generates contraction of the strongest muscles we have, which are those of chewing. It can improve markedly if you get into practicing physical activity.
  • You can apply heat to the area bothering you with warm cloths or some physical medium that provides warmth.
  • Avoid foods that involve you chewing too much or opening your mouth wide.
  • Please do not put anything inside your ears when they sting you, as it can cause otitis.

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are caused by the neck, head, and even chewing muscles contracture. In this case, you can identify symptoms such as:

  • That something tightens around the head (like a belt around it).
  • Pressure in the ears
  • Headache.
  • Earache.

Treatment of tension headaches

In this case, improvement is also observed with different measures that you can take at home, such as:

  • Massages and acupressure on contracted muscles.
  • Heat application.
  • I am carrying out physical exercise.
  • Posture improvement.

Going to a physical therapist can help you both with appropriate massages and teach you exercises to improve your posture and try to avoid headaches and the sensation of pressure.

I was feeling pressure in the ears from a balance problem.

When there is a problem in the innermost ear area, which is responsible for hearing and balance, different symptoms can occur, ranging from hearing loss to uncontrollable vertigo.

One of the problems that can occur is Ménière’s Syndrome, in which you can frequently feel in one ear:

  • Feeling of pressure
  • Feeling that the ear is plugged.
  • Ringing ( tinnitus )
  • Vertigo or spinning sensation.
  • Dizziness and instability

It is crucial to make a correct diagnosis because there are different diseases of the balance apparatus (both in the ear and at the central nervous system level) that can present similar symptoms. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it is convenient that you go to a specialist.

Treatment of Ménière’s Syndrome

If this is the cause determined by the specialist, different measures can be taken:

  • You were carrying out progressive physical activity since if the lack of balance is intense, you may even need the help of someone to rehabilitate your credit.
  • It would be best if you tried a healthy diet, avoiding salt and processed products (which contain it in excess and many other food toxins).
  • Depending on each case, your doctor can prescribe specific medications such as diuretics or antivertigo.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Pressure in the ears: causes and treatment, we recommend that you enter our category of Ear, nose, and throat.

You may also like

Leave a Comment