The congestion of the ears is a symptom that is perceived as a pressure and lightheadedness that may affect hearing.
This discomfort is related to problems that can affect the outer ear or the middle ear. Processes such as allergies and infections are its main causes.
Parts of the ear
In order to understand a little better, the mechanism by which congestion occurs in the ears, it is necessary to clarify a little how this structure is formed.
The ear is a complex organ. It consists of three parts:
· External ear It includes the pinna, known as the ear, the external auditory canal, and the tympanic membrane.
· Middle ear. It extends from the eardrum to the inner ear. It is made up of three very small bones known as the ossicles chain, these have the function of transmitting the vibrations of the eardrum to the inner ear.
· Inner ear. It is formed by a snail-shaped structure in which the fibers of the vestibulocochlear nerve originate. This has two large parts, the auditory nerve (which allows us to perceive sounds) and the vestibular nerve (related to the balance process).
The middle ear is connected to the nasal cavity through a tube called the Eustachian tube. This structure allows to compensate the pressure inside the ear and to provide a drainage channel for the secretions, thus preventing the eardrum from rupturing.
Causes of ear congestion
The feeling of congestion in the ears can be due to problems of the outer ear or the middle ear.
Outer ear problems
The main cause of congestion at this level is the presence of a wax plug.
Under normal conditions, the cells of the skin of the ear produce a wax that serves to lubricate the canal. In some people this wax is produced in large quantities, accumulating in the canal.
Some erroneous habits such as the use of swabs to clean the ears lead to the wax being pushed inwards, compacting it and further aggravating the obstruction. For this reason, ENT doctors always remind us that "the ears are cleaned with the elbows", the swabs are used only to clean the outer part of the ear, never the canal.
Middle ear problems
Nasal conditions such as allergic rhinitis and sinusitis lead to congested mucous membranes. The Eustachian tube is a narrow tube, when its mucosa thickens, it occupies the entire diameter of the tube, making the secretions from the middle ear unable to drain and accumulating behind the eardrum, producing what is known as otitis media.
Symptoms that accompany congestion in the ears
External ear conditions produce a sensation of obstruction that is accompanied by a decrease in hearing acuity. People have less hearing.
In the case of congestion of the inner ear the symptoms are more dramatic and can include:
· Very intense pain located in the ear that worsens when swallowing, it is perceived as a very strong pressure.
· Hearing loss.
· Ringing or buzzing sensation in the ear.
· In the case that the ear is colonized by bacteria from the nasal cavity.
· Discharge or bleeding from the ear This occurs when fluids produce a significant increase in pressure inside the ear, causing the eardrum to rupture.
· Dizziness that can cause nausea and vomiting.
In general, the affectation of the ear occurs simultaneously with an infection or an allergic process of the upper respiratory tract, so other symptoms such as nasal discharge and obstruction, sneezing, coughing and facial pain can occur.
How to relieve congestion in the ears
This condition requires treatment with medications that help decongest the ear, drain fluids, and treat the infection when it is present. It is also very helpful to apply saline solution at the nasal level since decongesting the nose facilitates the drainage of secretions from the ear.
The most used drugs are anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic. When an associated infection occurs, it is often viral, so antibiotics are not necessary.
Some non-pharmacological measures that can be applied to help relieve ear congestion are those that allow the Eustachian tube to be used as a drainage channel. These are movements such as swallowing, opening the mouth and blowing the nose, these actions help relieve symptoms.
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