Relieving Ear Pressure
Several Ways Of Relieving Ear Pressure
Relieving ear pressure may be quite an easy thing to do in those cases where the pressure is due to an imbalance between the air pressure in the middle ear and that of the environment. This is often the case when we undergo rapid changes in altitude, and the condition is called ear barotrauma. We most often experience ear barotrauma when flying, as the plane is taking off or landing, and the cabin pressure changes. Another time this is experienced may be when driving over a mountain pass. The ears may pop once or twice, and just prior to the popping, hearing may be somewhat impaired, at least to the point where sounds appear to be slightly muffled. A third cause is underwater diving, where the increasing water pressure as we go deeper can create an imbalance between the pressure in the inner ear and that of the outside environment.
Relieving ear pressure can be quite another matter if the cause of the pressure differential lies within the ear itself, or with the Eustachian tube, which runs between the back of the nose (the pharynx) and the middle ear, and functions among other things, to regulate the pressure in the middle ear. If the Eustachian tube becomes blocked and cannot perform this regulating function, or if the middle ear becomes infected, and mucous or fluid is allowed to accumulate, pressure may be felt on the eardrum. Swallowing, chewing gum, or one of the other practices we rely upon for relieving ear barotrauma pressures, will usually not work when an infection is involved. Relief may not occur until an antibiotic or some other medication has been administered.
The Eustachian Tube Is The Key - When we look at the various ways we can use in relieving ear pressure, in almost every case the Eustachian tube is involved, and what we're attempting to do is to open it. The Eustachian tube is normally closed, except when it opens to either regulate air pressure, or allow mucous, which has accumulated in the middle ear, to drain away. The tube is normally closed so that secretions from the nasal cavity will not find their way into the inner ear and cause an infection. By swallowing, chewing gum, and yawning to relieve the pressure, what we are really attempting got do is to get the Eustachian tube to open, and we usually are successful. The term pharyngotympanic tube is coming in to more general use as a replacement of the term Eustachian tube. Though perhaps harder to remember and pronounce, the new term makes sense, as the tube runs from the pharynx to the area where the tympanic membrane, or eardrum, is located.
Blow Your Nose - When traveling by air, inhalants often help keep the ears from popping, and keep ear pressure normal, as does sucking on hard candy. One recommendation is to blow the nose. No need to "honk", just blow very gently. Nose blowing is even more effective if the mouth is kept closed and fingers pinch the nose while an attempt is made to exhale slowly. If the baby in the family is about to be weaned off of his or her pacifier, and near term air travel is scheduled, either delay the weaning process, or keep the pacifier, as sucking on it may keep the little one from experiencing any ear pressure discomfort.
In the great majority of instances, ear pressure issues are usually quite temporary, and seldom very uncomfortable. If the condition persists however, or becomes more severe with the passage of time, it may be a good idea to seek medical help. There could be an infection or a malfunction of the Eustachian tube. You might even try impressing the folks in the clinic by use of the terms ear barotrauma and pharyngotympanic tube, instead of "ear popping" and "that Eustachian thing".