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ear pressure won't stabilize
PennstaterJosh posted:
over the past few years, I have had sporadic difficulty with my right ear. Occasionally, it gets out of wack for an hour or so so that the pressure in my ear isn't right and the way I hear things isn't quite right, it sounds like my ear is full of water. It also feels/sounds as if some of the air from my breathing goes out my right ear (like my breathing is echoing in my ear), although I don't think any air actually comes out of my ear. I find that the pressure imbalance is more likely (almost gauranteed) to occur when I am breathing hard, such as while I'm playing a sport, and it does indeed make it harder for me to breath and doesn't subside until after (sometimes well after) my body has returned to rest state. In these instances I can often hear my pulse beating in my right ear. Normally, when I open my jaw all the way as if to yawn, I hear a popping sound in my right ear and it almost sounds as if I'm listening to a conch shell. Whenever my ear feels out of sync like this, I can relieve it for a few seconds by squeezing my noze and blowing/sucking, as one would to stabilize ear pressure on a plane. However, it always returns within a few seconds, and it seems that all I can do is wait for it to pass. Over the past year, the frequency of these occurances increased to about two times a week (plus any occurances that were brought on by raised heart rate/breathing). A few days ago I dove off of a high dive at a pool party, and within a few hours I had a terrible ear ache, mostly in my right ear. When the ear ache subsided, my ear seemed to be full of water, but I soon recognized the feeling as the pressure problems I have always had. It has been 5 days, and the pressure imbalance still hasn't passed. This condition is rather debilitating, because when it manifests itself it is difficult for me to hear myself or others talk, and when I do hear myself talk it is in a distorted way. Sorry for the long post but I wanted to thoroughly describe the condition. Please help!
Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
As you may know, Josh, it is not possible for me to diagnose you over the Internet, no matter how thorough you are with your description of symptoms. I do not know anything about you, your complete medical history, nor do I have a way of examining you or running diagnostic tests. To be properly diagnosed, you will need to see a medical provider, preferably a good ENT specialist.

There can be several issues going on, one being ETD - Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. Please read my Blog on this subject

Feeling the air in your ear, echoes, or your own breathing may be a form of ETD called Patulous Eustachian Tubes (PET).

If you are hearing the pulse in your ears, this may be considere pulsatile tinnitus (PT), a very difficult condition to evaluate. PT can be caused by middle ear fluid (effusion) or even a wax impaction. It can also be caused be some very obscure inner ear disorders, vascular problems, etc. Again, this is not something that can really be determined blindly over the Internet.
lisa33716 responded:
Hi, I just ran across your post because I just went to the ENT doctor TODAY for a very similar problem! He didn't seem to understand what the hell I was talking about, but he said I could do one of 3 things: deal with it (what the...?!), try to pop my ear by holding my nose, and the 3rd thing was he could insert a tube into my ear drum to stabilize pressure. Every time I work out (which is often) I get this occurrence, which is a suctioning feeling in my ear when I inhale and air flow through the ear when I exhale. It totally affects my speech because I feel like I'm speaking like a deaf person! Is that the situation you've been experiencing, with the suctioning feeling? I can't clear it myself, like he said, I have to wait for it to pass on its own. I can't stand when it happens because it's embarrassing and also really uncomfortable! I also haven't been able to swim for the past few years because I too feel like water is trapped and I get major pain. The reason I'm even writing to you is because I was hoping to find out what a doctor says if you get it checked. Thanks and I hope to hear from you! (If I'm ABLE to hear that is!)
PennstaterJosh responded:
Hey! yeah the suctioning and air flow and "deaf person speech" that you are describing is exactly how my ear feels when it acts up. I've also been to an ear specialist doctor before about it, and they were also pretty clueless, just ended up saying they weren't sure what to do so they gave me an anti-allergenic nasal spray (which didn't work). I'm probably going to go to the campus doctor over the weekend if my ear doesn't clear up though, I'll let you know if I find out anything helpful
wanosd responded:
Seriously, some doctors are friggen clueless. Your best hope lies with other people who experience that. I get that from time to time, usually after I wake up or exercise hard. Now that I think about it, I've been getting it intermittently since highschool. The symptoms you described are EXACTLY like the ones I experience. I tried the holding nose and blowing slightly even before I read your post, and I had the same effects: that is, I heard about 100% louder/better for the time I'm increasing pressure in my nose (wihch possibly is balancing it with part of the ear that's overpressured). But, the moment I let got of my nose, I go back to hearing like 50%. For me, what helps is:

1) yawning, both real yawning and fake yawning with jaws moving and wide open.
2) sometimes holding both my nose and blowing helps, but not always. You have to feel for it. Sometimes I can feel that the pressure building up in my nasal cavity is about to burst out through the ear canal, thus restoring the proper pressure level to the ear. Sometimes, it's not going to happen, so I just give up because I don't want to damage my ears.
3) Sometimes, I go to extremes by driving to a local area where there's a large veritical geographical gap. In english, that means I drive to a place where it goes downhill for 5 mins or so. At the bottom of the drive, I yawn or do the holding nose trick and it sometimes work. That's probably because the air pressure difference between the top of the hill and bottom of the hill is such that it's more helpful than staying home.
4) Ignore it and it usually relieves itself.
5) Some people mention eating spicy stuff to make you have a running nose. I've never tried that.

Sometimes I wonder if I can put a suction cup or something over my ear to see if that helps. But who knows.

Good luck, to all of us.

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