What Causes Pressure Build Up In Ears From Cold Or Flu?

Common cold and flu are viral infection that predominantly affect the upper respiratory tract and in some cases problems related to ear. Pressure build up in ear is one of the problems that many people suffer from during cold and flu infection.

Human ear is made up of three different compartments; the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. The Eustachian tube links middle ear with nasopharynx. Its main function is to maintain balance between the air pressure in the middle ear with the surrounding atmosphere. The tube also drains mucus from middle ear.

However, fluid buildup in the middle ear and in the tube can occur when mucus is drained from nose and pharynx as in case of virus infections that causes cold and flu. Deformities in ear can worsen the problem.

Causes Of Pressure Buildup In Ears From Cold

There are number of viruses that are responsible for cold and flu.

  • Rhinovirus is frequently associated with cold and sneezing. It is the most contagious condition which spreads through air from droplets when you sneeze. A person breathing these droplets can get infected with the disease. It causes sneezing, running nose and congestion.
    The nose is filled and blocked with the accumulated mucus. Since the Eustachian tube is connected with the pharynx and nose, the fluid or mucus produced due to rhinovirus infection can seep into the tube and build excess of pressure in the middle ear as well as in the tube. Patient suffering from it may experience difficulty in hearing or roaring noise in the ear. There may be accompanied itching in the ear, but rarely associated pain. Usually cold caused by rhinovirus heals without treatment. However, buildup in ear may remain for few weeks.
  • Influenza virus is responsible for producing flu. The common symptoms of flu are mild to moderate fever, running nose, sneezing, body pain, lack of appetite, and ear ache due. Influenza virus infects the middle ear and the condition in medical parlance is called acute otitis media. It is a condition in which pressure and fluid buildup in Eustachian tube and middle ear causes pain, fever, inflammation, and pus in the middle ear.
  • Pressure and fluid buildup in middle ear can also occur due to short or deformed Eustachian tube. While the primary cause will remain to be viral infection, short deformed tube can exaggerate the condition. Usually Eustachian tube opens and closes when you swallow or yawn. But if the tube function is impaired, there is risk of it getting blocked. Due to cold and flu, the tubes may not open and close properly due to buildup of fluid. This often occurs in children as their Eustachian tube is short and straight. Virus thus can easily enter into the tube. Smoking is also a reason for too much pressure in the ear.

Home Remedies For Pressure Buildup In Ears

Common cold and flu are mild upper respiratory tract infections caused by different types of viruses. Fluid buildup and pressure is common in both these conditions due to proximity of the tube to the nasopharynx. Although in majority cases the condition heals on its own after a period of time, use of certain home remedies will help to reduce the suffering period.

  • Warm compress is beneficial. It helps to loosen the congestion, open up the blockage and reduces pain. Soak a warm cloth and wring it to remove excess of water. Hold the warm cloth for five to ten minutes over the affected ear. This is the best natural remedy to drain the fluid from clogged tube.
  • Inhalation of steam is also effective in removing fluid buildup and blockage from the ear. It is useful in cold and flu to alleviate irritation in nose, ear, and throat.
  • Yawning frequently helps to decrease pressure buildup in the ear. When you yawn the muscles come into action and open the tube.
  • Gargling and chewing gum both helps to open up the Eustachian tube and reduce the increased pressure.

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