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How Can Nasal Obstruction Cause Clogged Ears?

Dr. Sunil Aggarwal 92% (16 ratings)
MBBS, MS - ENT, DNB
ENT Specialist, Gurgaon  •  18 years experience
How Can Nasal Obstruction Cause Clogged Ears?

It is very common for patients with nasal obstruction to develop clogged ear as well. The back of the nose opens into a tunnel also known as the Eustachian tube. This tube goes up to the ear. In case the ears get clogged the pressure is released by popping of the ears. This is achieved by swallowing, yawning, and trying to blow the nose. When ear pops the tunnel opens and allows the pressure to release from the ear.

Reasons why nasal obstruction causes clogged ears:

  1. Mucosal Swelling: When the nose is obstructed, the nasal lining might swell thus making it difficult to breath. This might also lead to swelling in the tunnel of the ear causing it to shut down. Sometimes an ear pop does not happen in this condition and this is called as Eustachian tube dysfunction.
  2. Negative Pressure inside the Nose: In nose obstruction when the patient tries to breathe through the nose there is negative pressure. This might build up near the opening of the Eustachian tube or the back of the nose. This pressure gets transmitted to the ear and results in a negative pressure in the ear which leads to the clogging of the ear.
  3. Bernoulli's Principle: This principle states that in case of an inviscid flow, increase in speed of the fluid happens side by side with a pressure decrease.

Causes of Nasal Obstruction:

Obstruction or congestion of the nose leads to a stuffy and inflamed nose. In minor illnesses like fever, cold, sinus infection and flu stuffy nose can happen. This congestion might last for a week. In case the congestion is long term then the causes for it are:

  1. Allergies and hay fever
  2. Chemical and environmental irritants
  3. Septum deviation
  4. Chronic sinusitis that has lasted for too long
  5. Nasal polyps and benign tumors

Symptoms of nasal decongestion are runny or stuffy nose, painful sinus, and swollen nasal tissues along with mucus buildup.

Treatment for Nasal Decongestion:
Once the nasal congestion has been found and the cause behind it has been analyzed, then treatment is must. Treatment usually includes prescription medication or over the counter drugs. Medication of the nasal decongestion involves the following:

  1. Oral Antihistamines: These are helpful in treating allergies. Common ones are loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  2. Nasal Sprays: Nasal sprays which contain antihistamine like azelastine (Astelin, Astepro)
  3. Nasal Steroids: Examples of this are mometasone (Asmanex Twisthaler) or fluticasone (Flovent Diskus, Flovent HFA)
  4. Antibiotics
  5. Over the counter or prescription decongestants
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