Chiari Malformation Community
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1679858 tn?1346765181

Ear fullness and trouble swollowing

Hi everyone,

I'm not on here often as most days are pretty good.  I was diagnosed at 48 and am now 53.  I have had ear fullness that started ever so slightly, but seems to be strengthening. The pressure in my ears gets so strong that my throat feels tight and it is difficult to swollow. Sometimes the tight throat leads to the need to burp. Strangely, it is difficult to even burp and get the air up.  I know this all seems very strange, lol. I do find it hard to describe! I have been told that my Chiari isn't affecting me but no one can tell me why I have this ear fullness. Getting testing done with ENT soon.  

One ENT told me that the fullness was either my jaw or neck. I do have disc degeneration. Oh, and I was also recently diagnosed with chronic pan sinusitis. Can anyone else relate to any of this? I appreciate your opinions!  Thanks!
14 Responses
620923 tn?1452915648

   That is a Chiari symptom.....I had it too....and the swallowing issues is also Chiari. It will also cause sinus issues too.

Do you have a Chiari specialist?

Everyone has degenerative disk disease and it  is not a disease but normal wear and tear on the spine...but some of us experience earlier onset of the symptoms.....some with early onset have EDS....

Some swallowing issues can also be GERD related....and many with Chiari have GI issues too.

I would suggest talking to a Chiari Dr and possibly having more testing....have you had a CINE MRI?
7489440 tn?1442008376
Hello, Over the last 6 months I have had a lot of issues swallowing. I have been in and out of the ER  because I have had several issues with choking and having trouble swallowing meds and even a glass of water. I became dehydrated in the summer. The doctor was concern and kept me in for a few days. That way they could give me iv fluids and get me back to healthy. Ran many test but still no answer to why my throat seems to close up and have issues with swallowing. You can feel the tightness and then you struggle to even swallow saliva. It is scary I just hope the October will give me some more insight as well as help. As I haven't had a decent night in the past two months. SO we will see. best of luck to you
Avatar universal
My problems all started with fullness and ringing in my right ear.  I also had fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss in that ear.  I developed vertigo as well and then a constant feeling of imbalance that increases with activity levels.  I knew I had a history of right sphenoid sinusitis and my ENT thought that was the problem as that can cause vestibular problems.  I would get severe head pain whenever I would bend over or exert myself.  I underwent a balloon sinuplasty under general anesthesia and woke up with neck pain, major heart palpitations, severe imbalance, tremors and had episodes of sleep apnea for a while afterwards.  The ENT somehow thought I was reacting to the prednisone I was on.  The balloon sinuplasty was successful in reducing the pain of the headaches and post nasal drip but that was all.  I then went to a neuro otologist who diagnosed the chiari and thought my sinus surgery was unnecessary and aggravated the chiari due to the position of my neck for the breathing tube.  He referred me to a couple neurosurgeons who didn't think the chiari was an issue. I went to neurologists who could find nothing wrong with me and said it was all in my head.  I went to another neuro otologist and he thought I could possible have a fistula in my right ear and I underwent inner ear surgery for that which was also unsuccessful.  It wasn't until I sent my images to two well know chiari specialists that the chiari was taken seriously and I am now scheduled for surgery in 2 weeks.

As for swallowing issues, I don't think I have any.  Sometimes I feel my food gets stuck in my throat and I need to drink to help it go down and sometimes I cough because liquids like soup seem to sneak down my throat, but I never thought any of this was chiari related.  I'm not sure.

I did start the ENT route and they put me through vestibular testing, which was horrible and greatly aggravated my vertigo for weeks.  I also developed severe headaches during the caloric part of the testing.  I'm just mentioning this because I'm not sure what testing the ENT is putting you through.  My results did come back abnormal for the right ear (my chiari is greater on the right side).

I just wanted to respond to your post because my symptoms started with ear fullness.  I started taking Sudafed to help reduce it and it didn't help.  Then my symptoms just kept progressing.  If you ever think chiari might be the cause send your images to a specialist.  I was looking for answers for a year before finally sending my images to specialists and I could have saved a lot of time if I went straight to a specialist.

good luck.
Avatar universal
I developed a myriad of heavy (some downright debilitating) symptoms within the span of ..a little less than a year..but things really hit heavy (when I knew this had to be dealt with now...having had been dx'd in 2005! But it wasn't until last year that symptoms ramped up and made themselves VERY known). I too experienced a fullness in ears...tinnitus just in the left ear...but the fullness would get "thicker" on days that the ringing (like a jet 747 engine kind of roar) but that sound made me more easily confused/more easily...sensitive to alllll other sounds & I felt bombarded. The fullness in my head didn't feel like a cold fullness. It felt like dense cotton in my head that was extremely heavy. (I know cotton doesn't come across as something you'd call heavy, but it did... My brain/head felt like dense, heavy cotton). On those ramped up days it was hard to function. It also messed with my spacial awareness...Ithe vertigo would be more of an issue. Swallowing was not AS big of an problem for me, but yes in a way... In that sometimes I'd drink after a bite of food & it was like everything was stuck & I needed to burp, but couldn't. I think I looked like I was choking sometimes...I know I did. My whole body would move around trying to get down the food-drink, needing to burp but couldn't. So on that sense I had issue w/ swallowing sometimes.
I was sent to an ENT to rule out any inner ear problems, tumors...to rule out ANYTHUNG that could be causing the fullness, ringing-roar in left ear & the balance-vertigo issues. Nope. Nothing wrong there. It was ruled Neurological Issue. Which my Neurologist wanted to make sure it wasn't anything else before it was put into my "Chiari" field.
I was also sent to a Gastrointrologist (sp?) as I had GI issues for quite a long time. I have GERD & a duodenal ulcer.
I've kept track of all symptoms whether I thought it could be related or not...just b/c Chiari can be so all over the place. Luckily, I've a Neuro. who is very Chiari knowledgeable & did want to rule anything out before it could be even considered Chiari.
Just thought I'd post my experience ... Especially with the ear fullness.
1679858 tn?1346765181
Wow, thanks for all that info! After writing on here last night, I had a pretty rough night. I had heartburn (which I've rarely experienced) and the pain in the right side of my chest travelled into my jaw area. I had usual tightness in my throat and the need to burp but couldn't. Ears were very full, my throat was very dry and I was having trouble swallowing. Mucas seems to just sit at the back of my throat and I can't clear it. I got up and moved around and finally got some air up.  I took a Zantac which helped.  This may be a gerd type thing as your mentioned, Selma. Thank you all again for sharing! H
1679858 tn?1346765181
Hi again,  some of you mentioned vertigo. I have positional vertigo. I can't lay on my right side or eventually it starts up. I don't get vertigo when upright, but I do get some mild dizziness at times. I mentioned neck degeneration. I should have said that I have some cervical arthritis which causes most of my right sides headaches. I've been told that the arthritis could be the cause of the positional vertigo. Just wanted to know if the vertigo you experience is the same. It's def good to know that certain testing or manipulation so may not help me and potentially make things worse. Please tell me about your experiences with vertigo/dizziness. Thanks again!
1679858 tn?1346765181
Hi again,  some of you mentioned vertigo. I have positional vertigo. I can't lay on my right side or eventually it starts up. I don't get vertigo when upright, but I do get some mild dizziness at times. I mentioned neck degeneration. I should have said that I have some cervical arthritis which causes most of my right sides headaches. I've been told that the arthritis could be the cause of the positional vertigo. Just wanted to know if the vertigo you experience is the same. It's def good to know that certain testing or manipulation so may not help me and potentially make things worse. Please tell me about your experiences with vertigo/dizziness. Thanks again!
7489440 tn?1442008376
The dizziness/vertigo are getting worse for me. I just cant wait until October 15 when I go back to the NL. In order to let her know all the new symptoms and the old ones that are getting worse.

As I moved a couple of months ago, and there were only three capable of helping lifting the heavy objects. As I know it was not a good idea to do so. As we were taking a bed upstairs I missed a step and I fell down the steps in the process the other person let go and that also fell down on me. So I wonder if that caused these symptoms to get worse and the new ones to arise.

Best of luck to you. hope you feel better.
Avatar universal
My vertigo was never something I could predict. Ok...well, only a certain few things I KNEW would bring it on. As a person who loved flying&elevators, it became that elevators were my worst nightmare! I knew that it would throw me off, throw me into needing someone to hold onto for hours....perhaps the rest of the day.
Sometimes it would hit me going from a lying down position to up... Sometimes it would just hit me as I walked through the grocery store. If something wooshed by me fast & unexpectedly, I would  have a quick 'bout... where I had to hold onto something. Sometimes it wasn't just a "dizzy" swirling...more like everything under me was shifting. As though the ground beneath me was shifting just enough to throw me off and make me feel crazy that everything was shifting around me in slow motion.
I was sent to an ENT by my Neuro. to rule out any reason for it. Lots of testing w/ENT  and Neuroutoliogist (? I think that was the name of the 2nd  "ist" I was sent to regarding the whole vertigo & tinnitus dealio). Nothing was wrong & I was sent back to Neurologist with it.
I don't know if the surgery has lessened or...reversed this problem, as I'm still in early stages & many things are "wooshy" to me...and my balance is nothing to be proud of right now. But, that should change....it better! ;)
That's just my experience with the vertigo-most of the time it was unpredictable. I suppose that ironically matches classically unpredictable Chiari! How perfect.
I suppose that info. wasn't of too much help as after all that writing, it all boils down to unpredictable- except elevators and escalators..sometimes car situations too. These things never happened to me before last year-and the aftermath of not being able to walk straight after the Vertigo hit, needing someone to hold onto, etc-that was  (and escalators...which both, had never ever thrown me off before it suddenly unleashed on me a year ago...I LOVED flying, elevators-I loved the sensation previous to the crashlanding of Chiari symptoms in my life ) a harsh new reality.
Ugh. I apologize. I write in such circles. I can't seem to write like I used to-with clear, streamlined, non-repetitive,  
Simple understanding. So, I do apologize for the scattered mess. :/
In the end, I meant, basically, that it was as unpredictable (for me) as Chiari is.
Avatar universal
I understand cervical issues- the pain & pressure (pre-op)..I was sent to a Rheumy. for my cervical issues.
Quite some time ago, I'd been told to do cervical traction to help relieve pressure by a physical Therapist I was sent to.(as well as cranial sacral (sp?) work by a Chiro.) but when my NL found out, she said stop immediately. No cervical traction!!!! No cervical manipulation at all is what she said. I've recently read that's a no-no as well. Correct me if I'm wrong-but that's what I was told by NL & then my NS said to never do that (during my initial meetings with him). So, that's my understanding.
1679858 tn?1346765181
Awe, don't worry!! I appreciate all the info you're giving me! The more I hear from people on this site and their symptoms, the more I realize that I'm experiencing the same things. I just haven't been bad at all --  most of what I feel is quite minor, I've been lucky so far. It's only been this past week that the swallowing has bothered me.  I also had a scary dizzily spell that only lasted a few seconds but it was worse than before. I was taking Nasonex for sinusitis inflammation but had to stop it five days before allergy testing on Tuesday. I wonder if stopping it has caused the swelling to worsen and now I'm feeling it in my throat? I know what you mean by not being able to think clearly. I'm the same way. I feelike I just can't get my thoughts in order.  Kind of worries me at Dr appts.  
Avatar universal
I too had/have vertigo. I am 9 weeks post op right now and still suffer with iit. I would get sudden bouts where the only way I could describe it is it was as if the earth fell from underneath my feet and I was free falling. It's very scary and sends the heart racing and me clutching onto the closest thing I can find. I also get positional vertigo where upon standing and upon laying and sometimes just moving my head would set it off. I had a tilt table test done years ago that diagnosed orthostatic hypotension and now  looking into POTS. Seems that this and chiari can go hand in hand sometimes. Wonder if that's something you should look into as well, if you haven't already. I wish you luck in trying to figure it out! Such an unpredictable condition!
1679858 tn?1346765181
Thanks for that info Kerri. Yes, it's def a mind boggler!! I'm experiencing some symptoms this last week that are stronger than before.y go just retired and the new guys secretary doesn't answer the phone. I feel like I have nowhere to go!! Thanks everyone for your input!! I will go to the walk in clinic tonight I guess. Have to let someone know what's going on!
Avatar universal
I developed vertigo for the first time after running a mile or two.  Then I bent down to stretch and I felt weird and I came up and saw the horizon move.  As I walked to the car it would come in waves.  I was able to drive home but then in the shower I put my head back and it got real bad.  That was just the beginning.  Anytime I would bend over or exert myself my head would hurt and things would move on me.  I also had sinus issues and when I was given prednisone the vertigo and headaches would improve, then come back with a vengeance when I tapered off them.  My hearing would fluctuate too.

My vertigo/balance issues also get worse the more I move.  For instance, if I walk slow and not too much I'm ok, but if I have too walk fast and take long strides and engage lots of muscles the floor starts to feel like it's sliding on me but it's not vertigo in that things seem to be lurching on me.  this happens even if I don't move my head and just look straight ahead. Then when I stop moving and sit down I feel like I am rocking back and forth for a while.

I also have more of a problem laying on my right side when the vertigo kicks in, and I can't lay flat for a length of time or I will get dizzy.

Greatly reducing my activities, trying to avoid bending over, not stressing the position of my neck and sleeping propped up has helped my vertigo from getting terrible again.  It's always there but manageable now.

I read that you are going to a walk in clinic.  If you suspect chiari you really need to see a specialist.  I found that even neurosurgeons and neurologists didn't understand the syndrome, especially if intense headache isn't at the top of your symptom list and your herniation isn't 15 mm or more.  So many doctors were actually scolding me and telling me to forget it, to let the chiari go.  They would just look at me with pity and say I'd get better in time, in other words that I was just having a mental breakdown.  Sorry, just a little venting.  Just don't want that to happen to you if, in fact, chiari is the issue.
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