How to Relieve Ear Pressure Pain

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Excess pressure in the ear from problems such as Swimmer's Ear or ear infections can cause pain that must be relieved. Minimize the pain and increase comfort with help from a practicing doctor in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Ears 101
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill, and today we are going to be talking about how to relieve ear pressure pain. So, there are a few things that can cause the sensation of pain and pressure in the ear. Probably the most common is a swimmer's ear. That's an infection or inflammation of the external auditory canal. That's this part, the hole all the way down to the ear drum and everything that's surrounds it. Now, if you have a really mild swimmer's ear you can try an over-the-counter swimmer's ear remedy. You can try mixing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar and alcohol in one to one mixtures and see if that will relieve it. But, if you got really substantial pain, chances are good you are going to need an antibiotic, often mixed with a steroid medication that only your doctor can prescribe for you. So, ways to know it's a swimmer's ear, if you touch your ear and it hurts or poke right here and it hurts. And it feels full and painful that's a swimmer's ear. And you are going to want to seek care for that in most cases. Now, another part of the ear that can feel pain and pressure is the middle ear. That's the chamber normally filled with air where the little bones live, the ossicles, that connect the ear drum to the nerves or the cochlea. Now when that chamber is not filled with air or when the air pressure in that chamber is very different from the air pressure in the outside world it can stretch the ear drum or inflame the ear drum and cause pain. Usually, if it's just a matter of air pressure you can equalize the pressure by yawning, chewing gum, swallowing or doing something else to move the jaw. You might hold your nose a little bit and try move some air in and out, and see if you can equalize the pressure. If there's fluid in there as might occur for example with a cold or viral upper respiratory infection you might want to use an over-the-counter decongestant such as sudoehpedrine or phenylephrine for a day or two. Now, we don't recommend these medications for children especially young children anymore. It doesn't appear that they really do them any good and there maybe some really significant side effects in some cases. A third thing you could try, if you have fluid in the middle ear, is a sort of a nasal decongestant spray like Afrin or a generic version. But most important don't use that for more then one or two days at a time, three days at most. Because then stopping it gets really hard. The inside of the nose gets used to having that chemical, that medicine there and when the medicine goes away the congestion comes right back. Now if you have pain and fever you may have a middle ear infection. Many middle ear infections resolve without the use of antibiotics but some severe or complicated middle ear infections do require antibiotics. So at that point you are going to want a doctor to look down in the ear and see what's going on. Talking about relieving with a middle ear congestion and pressure, I'm Dr. David Hill.

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