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Ear Congestion: What is it, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment


Ear Congestion: What is it, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Ear congestion, which can be caused by different health problems, is one of the most common sensory organ disorders in society.

Ear congestion, which can be caused by different health problems, is one of the most common sensory organ disorders in society.

The functioning of our five basic sense organs in our body is indispensable for a happy and successful life. Disruptions in sensory organs due to various health problems negatively affect daily life. In this sense, ear congestion, which can be caused by different health problems, is one of the most common sensory organ disorders in society.

What is Ear Congestion?

Ear congestion or fullness; It is a clinical symptom in which people feel a feeling of fullness in the inner ear tissue along with a decrease in hearing. Depending on the degree of obstruction, hearing may be partially or completely reduced in patients; Loss of balance may occur and disturb the person, seriously negatively affecting the quality of daily life. Ear congestion can be caused by different conditions or health problems in various anatomical parts of the ear.

The ear is examined anatomically in three basic regions: outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. The outer ear consists of the pinna, ear canal and eardrum; It is responsible for collecting sounds from the external environment and transmitting them to the interior. middle ear; It is the region where the sound waves transmitted by the eardrum are strengthened with the help of ear ossicles and transferred to the inner ear. The middle ear is connected to the nasal cavity via the eustachian tube. Thanks to the Eustachian tube, the inner ear pressure is adjusted. The inner ear is the perception region where transmitted sounds are converted into appropriate signals for the nervous system.

Complaints of ear congestion usually occur due to health problems affecting the outer ear or middle ear areas. Since both ear areas are responsible for transmitting sounds to the inner ear; Various physical barriers or disorders that cause disruption in the transmission of sounds can be perceived as ear congestion. However, various pathologies affecting the inner ear can rarely cause ear congestion.

What are the symptoms of ear congestion?

Ear congestion or fullness is associated with various clinical symptoms. In this sense, the following symptoms may be observed in patients who develop ear congestion:

  • Partial or complete loss of hearing
  • Hearing muffled sounds and the resulting need to speak loudly
  • Ringing, buzzing, or feeling of fullness
  • Loss of balance or feeling of imbalance
  • Earache
  • Inflamed or clear ear discharge
  • Sensitivity in the ear area with jaw movements
  • Redness, swelling in the ear area
  • runny nose or postnasal drip

What Causes Ear Congestion?

Ear congestion causes clinical manifestations of different characteristics and severity depending on the area of ​​the ear where it occurs or the underlying health problem. In this regard, the following conditions and diseases may occur with complaints of ear congestion:

  • Cork: Various secretory and sebaceous glands along the outer ear canal produce wax-like secretions to keep the area moist and to prevent foreign substances from reaching the inner parts of the ear. Ear congestion occurs when the secretion, popularly known as “earwax”, is produced in excess for various reasons and completely blocks the ear canal. This structure is called bushon.
  • Upper respiratory tract infections: Different upper respiratory tract infections such as cold, flu or flu cause increased secretion and tissue edema in the nasal cavity, as well as similar conditions in the middle ear through the Eustachian tube. As a result, ear congestion may develop.
  • Sinusitis: Similar to an upper respiratory tract infection, increased secretion as a result of inflammation in the sinus cavities may be reflected in the middle ear via the Eustachian tube and result in ear congestion.
  • Allergic rhinitis: In case of edema of the tissues in the nasal cavity due to the effect of allergens and excessive mucous secretion, congestion may occur in the middle ear as a result of secretion accumulation.
  • Water accumulation in the ear: In daily events that may result in water entering the ear canal, such as swimming or showering, water accumulation in the ear canal can reduce sound permeability and cause ear congestion.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoke can irritate the nasal cavity and middle ear areas, causing increased secretion and congestion.
  • Middle ear infection: As a result of infection of the middle ear tissues with bacterial or viral factors, obstruction due to edema and inflammatory fluid accumulation may develop.
  • Serous otitis media: Dense fluid accumulation in the middle ear cavity due to previous infection, allergy or other health problems is called serous otitis media. Accumulated fluid prevents sound transmission and causes ear congestion.
  • Pressure changes: Since the Eustachian tube cannot adapt immediately to pressure changes due to rapid changes in altitude during travel, the internal pressure of the middle ear and the tension of the eardrum differ. As a result, the transmission of sounds may be negatively affected and a feeling of ear congestion may occur.
  • Outer ear infections: In bacterial, viral or fungal infections that cause inflammation in the outer ear canal, the canal opening narrows and sound permeability decreases as a result of edema and swelling in the tissues in this area. The result is ear congestion.
  • Foreign body: Ear congestion occurs due to a decrease in sound permeability as a result of foreign objects such as cotton, toys, and nuts entering the ear canal.
  • Meniere’s disease: Ear congestion and fullness are among the clinical symptoms of Meniere’s disease, which is caused by pressure changes in the internal fluids of the tissues responsible for hearing in the inner ear.
  • Cholesteatoma: As a result of damage to the internal tissues of the ear as a result of chronic ear infections, abnormal tissue structures called cholesteatoma may occur. Cholesteatomas can cause ear congestion as they negatively affect sound transmission along with damage to the eardrum and middle ear.
  • Acoustic neuroma: Acoustic neuroma is one of the tumors that occur in the nerve tissue of the ear responsible for hearing; Since it negatively affects hearing, it may cause ear congestion.
  • Jaw joint disorders: In the course of various diseases that cause pain and movement disorders in the jaw joint, it may feel like there is ear congestion, as the symptoms are reflected in the ear.

How to relieve ear congestion?

Removing ear congestion depends primarily on correctly identifying the underlying health problem. Treatment planning varies depending on the problem. In this regard, the precautions to be taken in treatment according to the most common causes of ear congestion can be summarized as follows:

Bushon Treatment

In healthy people, if earwax does not cause any clinical symptoms, ear secretions do not need to be cleaned by intervention. Ear secretions are expelled from the ear canal over time, thanks to the movements of the jaw joint and facial muscles. However, ear secretions may be secreted more in conditions such as working in dusty environments, mixing the ears, and frequent water entering the ear. Such situations increase the development of buds.

In the treatment of septicemia, cleaning solutions containing glycerin or boric acid are used to soften the accumulated secretion and facilitate its excretion. Hardened plug masses can be cleaned with the help of equipment and interventions performed by a physician.

Treatment of Conditions Due to Infections

In cases of outer ear or middle ear infections and upper respiratory tract infections, appropriate drug treatment is given according to the causative agent. In bacterial infections, appropriate antibiotic treatment to which the causative agent is sensitive is the most frequently used method. In addition, decongestants, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroid-containing nasal sprays applied intranasally to reduce nasal and middle ear secretions may be included in the treatment. It is useful to frequently wash, moisten and clean the nasal cavity with water or cleaning solutions. Consumption of irritating substances such as cigarettes should be stopped. Also, drinking plenty of fluids during the infection is beneficial to soften the secretions.

Treatment of Allergy-Related Conditions

In allergies that develop in the ear area or nasal cavity, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, and corticosteroid-containing nasal sprays and tablets to calm the allergic reaction is often effective. For the success of the treatment, the person’s exposure to allergenic substances must be minimized.

Pressure Change Therapy

Ear problems can be prevented by taking various precautions during pressure changes during travel. Accordingly, chewing gum, keeping the mouth open, swallowing or yawning during altitude changes help balance the middle ear pressure by leaving the Eustachian tube open. In addition, a movement called the Valsalva maneuver, which is called the Valsalva maneuver, can be applied by squeezing the nose with the fingers and forcing exhalation through the nose while closing the mouth.

Apart from these cases, in case of blockages due to health problems, specific treatment methods for the relevant disease are used.

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