Ear feels full affecting hearing, but I can feel my tubes open

So about a year and a half ago, my left ear started feeling full. After a month or so, my hearing started to decrease in that ear as well. Then about a year ago, I went to an ENT, who saw nothing wrong in my ear, but did a hearing and pressure test. My hearing came back within normal levels. But more importantly, when they did the pressure test, the pressure forced into my ear popped that ear for the first time in months. There was even a ripple on the graph right at the start that was obviously my ear equalizing. It stayed popped for about 5 minutes on my way back to my car, then plugged again and has persisted ever since.

I’ve tried everything I can find online to fix the issue. It’s not earwax, I’ve had my ear flushed at my GP. I also don’t think it’s just straight up hearing loss, because I’m 22 and I don’t listen to anything very loudly (just about half volume on an iPhone when I’m using headphones), and there weren’t any loud noises that I can remember around the time that the issues started.

Here’s a list of things/techniques I’ve tried to no avail:

  • Using decongestants/nasal sprays
  • Swallowing, yawning, chewing gum
  • Valsalva (holding nose and blowing gently)
  • Toynbee (holding nose and swallowing)
  • Frenzel (holding nose and making “k” noises)
  • Edmonds (Valsalva but also pushing my jaw forward)
  • All of these techniques while pulling my ear lobe down and out, and tilting my head
  • Otovent (tried the water swallowing technique and using decongestants at the same time, didn’t work)

However, one important thing to note is that when I do these techniques like the Valsalva, I do feel some pressure in there. I can feel the air go into my middle ear and feel my eardrum move a bit and both ears sound fuller until I swallow or open my jaw. There’s also often some clicking noises in the affected ear. But when my ears are back to “normal”, the left one still feels full and the problem isn’t alleviated at all.

Another thing is that sometimes when I’m doing the Valsalva and there’s pressure in my ear, if I hum or make noise in my head, I can feel my eardrum vibrating quite a bit in that ear to the point that it tickles a bit, and the humming is very loud in that ear. If I hum during my normal state, my internal humming sounds louder in my right ear than my left.

I’m not sure if this is even the best place to get advice on what might be causing this, but I’d appreciate any ideas on what it is or solutions to it or even just someone else experiencing the same problem. It’s driving me nuts.

Have you tried washing them through using a neti pot? You put a mix of bicarbonate of soda and salt in and squirt it in both nostrils.
I actually use a syringe because it seems to push the fluid round better.
Anyway just search for neti pot and you’ll see what it does.

Been doing this for years. Learned about it after a sinus surgery. It works wonders for allergies. The saline mixture recipe is a big time saver.

Typically, to use the Neti pot or other nasal irrigation device, mix 3 teaspoons of iodide-free, preservative-free salt with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and store in a small clean container. Mix 1 teaspoon of this mixture in 8 ounces of distilled, sterile or previously boiled and cooled water.

I have not only found the “neti pot” treatment useful - I actually prefer NeilMed’s plastic bottle with saline solution, but found amazing ear popping results with PressureEze nasal spray, which I buy at Amazon.

Every time I use that, I can pop my ears using the Valsalva method for a good day or so. That alone is a miracle, cuz I’d gone for YEARS unable to “clear” my left ear. You just need to follow the directions: plug ONE nostril and inhale the spray up the other - 3 good SPRITZES! Tip your head back and massage the nose to work the saline solution into the tissues. Something about the mix of the potion seems to work on the Eustachian tubes even.

By contrast, a nasal rinse with NeilMed gave me maybe ONE or TWO ear clearings before that ear sealed back up. Could this be narrow or collapsed Eustachian tubes? I like them cleared cuz I swear I hear 10% better.

Me too. The plastic bottles are the only types I have used, big and small. Would not think of using the pot thing., it has zero pressure.

The doctor after the surgery turned me on to this nasal rinse.

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And my doctor said don’t buy the solutions, you can easily make them up at home.
They go on about it being sterile but as my doctor said nasal passages can’t be sterile as you are breathing in rubbish all the time.

Any significant weight gain a year and a half ago?

Yes, I’ve read it’s pretty simple saline … but strangely enough, whatever is in the PressureEze nasal spray seems to have some kind of almost immediate effect on my being able to clear my ears! No idea what that magic ingredient is, but I keep it on hand and even travel with a bottle of it. I read that airline pilots and frequent fliers also find it discreet and easy to use right on a flight.

Do you mean that significant weight gain could put pressure on the ears? That is interesting. I suppose certain allergies may also come into play with a fullness in the ear.

Sometimes rapid weight fluctuations can be associated with eustachian tube dysfunction. Sometimes inflammation in that area and around the jaw can also cause some trouble.

I’m not sure, though, that constant use of nasal sprays and valsalvas would really be great for eustachian tube dysfunction in the long run. If it were me, I might be tempted to convince an ENT to pop a tube into the eardrum to alleviate the sense of pressure, and then hopefully just leave it alone for a while. We don’t have super effective treatments for eustachian tube dysfunction at this point, and while it’s annoying it’s not really dangerous. There are balloon treatments that look semi-effective for some versions of it.