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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Fullness in the ear

03/08/2001

Question:

My right ear has a constant "fullness feeling" similar to the feeling you`d get if you were wearing an earplug. The doctor offers little relief!! Which is frustrating!!!! Do you have any slick cures or medication I should try? I`m at the age....where I`m not affraid to tell my doctor what I think or what medication I would like prescribed. Thanks,

Answer:

Fullness in the ear can be a difficult problem to cure.

Obviously, the best course would be to identify the cause of the full sensation in your ear (diagnosis) followed by a diagnosis-specific treatment.

To evaluate what is going on in your case, a standard Ear, Nose and Throat evaluation would include a thorough history - checking on factors such as allergies, past medical problems, prior surgeries, current medications....all of which can cause ear fullness problems. The examination should then include not only an ear exam, but also a general head and neck exam. Sometimes problems of the nose, sinuses and nasopharynx can cause ear fullness sensations. Any ear complaints should be evaluated with a complete audiologic test battery - routine hearing tests including middle ear impedance testing. Based on the results of the evaluation and preliminary tests, your physician would then decide if any other tests would be in order, such as allergy testing, imaging studies, etc.

There are dozens of different factors and diseases that cause ear fullness. A fairly common cause is allergy-related eustachian tube dysfunction. Your physician might suspect something like this and order allergy testing or empirically try you on antihistamine type medications. However, it is important to remember that many other problems (e.g. Meniere`s disease or ear infections) can cause the sensation of ear fullness. In some cases, a complete `cure` of the fullness may not be possible, but you should work with your physician to make sure that a diagnosis is at least obtained.

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Response by:

Daniel   Choo, MD Daniel Choo, MD
Associate Professor and Director, Division of Otology/Neurotology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati