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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders
Ongoing ear pressure
I have had recurring sinus problems since moving into a community near Lake Erie with next to no elevation. Problems are usually in spring and Nov. when weather changes are constant. I have come to believe the problem is pressure related. Currently I have an infection brought on presumably by spring allergies. Dr. is treating me with med-pack, antibiotic, and decongestant. My problem is always on the right side of my head and pressure in my ear is always the first sign. I now can feel a tenderness between my ear and the back of my throat especially when I swallow. This has been a particularly bad inflammation--sudafed usually solves the problem--not this one. My jaw hurt starting in front of the right ear--went to the dentist to make sure no problem. 3 days into the antibiotic the jaw pain is subsiding but oddly, is in my lower jaw (right side only) which does not seem associated with any of the major sinus cavities. What is infected to cause pressure in my lower jaw? Am I am right to suspect that low lying areas exert more air pressure on me than I am able to handle? Pain in my ear is better than weather at telling me when a storm is approaching. If there is something I can read to inform myself on this issue, please advise. Many thank you`s.
I suspect that your sinus problem relates more to allergies than to the changes in pressure. At the very least it would be worthwhile to consider seeing someone for allergy testing and possibly more aggressive management. In addition, you may have some underlying anatomical abnormality that predisposes your right side, and this too should be evaluated.
Fullness and pressure in the ear is common with nasal allergies and sinus inflammation. It usually relates to the eustachian tube, a tube that passes from the middle ear space to the back of the nose. This tube ventilates the ear and is responsible for equilibrating middle ear pressure with atmospheric pressure. With nasal and sinus drainage and allergic inflammation, the eustachian tube often does not work as well as it should.
None of this typically would cause lower jaw pain. If you notice this pain is aggravated by eating or chewing, and if you've had some major dental work done lately, perhaps you are suffering from TMJ. This is an inflammation of the muscles that work the jaw, and can often localize as ear pain or pressure. It is most common in people that grind their teeth at night. Treatment initially is to apply heat, stick to a softer diet, and try an anti-inflammatory pain reliever, such as ibuprofen.
Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati