I have had constant ear pressure for about a month and a half. In my left ear, I get the same feeling I get when taking off or landing in an airplane -- just intense pressure. Chewing gum, swallowing, or plugging my nose and blowing don't seem to help. I've been to two doctors who don't know what to do -- they put me on antibiotics (but no infection) and prednisone to open it up, but still I have the pressure in that one ear. Any suggestions?
This should be relatively straight-forward to diagnose an ear problem here or rule it out. Did the doc do at least pneumatic otoscopy? Better yet, did you get a tympanogram? These tests can tell if your ear drum is moving properly and support a diagnosis of middle ear effusion and/or Eustachian tube dysfunction. Assuming it is that, this condition will typically resolve on its own within 1-3 months. No medicines have been demonstrated to work, unfortunately. For those who cannot (or will not) wait it out, a myringotomy or ear tube will take care of it. If this condition is not found, then one must consider other diagnoses, the most common of which tends to revolve around TMJ or temporalis muscle troubles.
None of these tests were performed -- both doctors just looked in my ears and tried to treat it with medications that, as I mentioned, did not work. If I know it will likely go away within 3 months, I can wait, but I don't want it to be dangerous.
Frustrating....I am sorry that this was not handled differently. I see this a lot. This is not likely to be dangerous (one can never be sure when trying to diagnose in this setting!), but some simple diagnostic skills are all that are needed to help make the correct diagnosis. Like I was suggesting, studies have demonstrated (at least in children) that about 90% of middle ear fluid will clear within 3 months (about 50% in 1 month). Rarely, this can be a sign of something more concerning; in this case I would not expect it to resolve.
That can often be the hard part. Most commonly, associated with inflammation secondary to viral infections, allergic inflammation, irritants (cigarette smoke). There are rarer and more serious causes, like I mentioned. For adults with fluid in the middle ear that won't go away, most ENT docs consider a thorough head/neck exam (including endoscopic exam of the pharynx) as mandatory.
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