What is ear fullness?

Ear fullness is the feeling that your ears are clogged, stuffed or congested when yawning, swallowing, or other usual methods for eliminating this sensation have failed to work. You may experience muffled or slightly impaired hearing as a result.

Ear Problems Spotlight

Ear fullness accompanied by cold and flu-like symptoms is typically caused by a blocked Eustachian tube, which connects your ear to your throat and permits the drainage of fluid from your middle ear. If fluid builds up, it can cause the middle ear to become infected with bacteria or viruses, causing pain and swelling.

Sudden, dramatic shifts in air pressure, such as those experienced when flying in an airplane or scuba diving, may cause fullness in the ear or even rupture of the eardrum. This is known as barotrauma and occurs from extreme pressure differences between the inside of your ear and the outside.

Although ear fullness often results from congestion due to the common cold and will resolve with self-treatment, certain symptoms may indicate a more serious condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if your symptoms persist after three to four days or are accompanied by a very high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe pain, swelling and redness of the skin surrounding the ear, or drainage of pus from the ear.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with ear fullness?

You may experience other symptoms surrounding the ear in addition to the feeling of fullness, clogging and congestion.... Read more about ear fullnesssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes ear fullness?

Ear fullness can be caused by infection, especially when accompanied by cold and flu-like symptoms. The feeling of fullness is the result a blocked Eustachian tube, which connects your ear to your throat and permits the drainage of fluid from your middle ear. If fluid builds up, the middle ear may become infected with bacteria or viruses, leading to pain and swelling. Hay fever and other allergies are also common causes of ear fullness.... Read more about ear fullnesscauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Ear, Nose and Throat


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