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Ear Fullness: What’s It All About?


We’ve all been there – the uncomfortable feeling that our ears can’t pop regardless of what we do. We try chewing gum, we plug our noses and swallow, we open and close our mouths so much we look like we’re participating in a lip-sync battle. But what is this feeling about? And how can some types of nasal rinse make it worse and some make it better?

Lend us your ears

The ears aren’t only for hearing (they hold our glasses in place, too). They are a complex network made up of bones, fluid, cavities, and passageways. The middle-ear is largely responsible for hearing, while the role of the inner-ear involves the dynamic maintenance of balance (that’s why some serious ear infections can cause dizziness).

The middle-ear is exquisitely sensitive to changes in barometric pressure; a differential between the pressure in the middle-ear and outside world causes the uncomfortable sensation of ear fullness (this is directly linked to kids getting ‘tubes’). There are many triggers that lead to this change – infections, altitude fluctuations, or allergies. The common underlying problem generally involves dysfunction of the Eustachian tubes, the small canals that connect the middle-ear to the back of the nose. The job of these tubes is to stabilize middle-ear pressure, a mechanism that’s naturally activated during yawning, swallowing, and sneezing (or alternatively, holding the nose and blowing out with the mouth closed, to force the Eustachian tubes to activate). Some people are born with structural abnormalities of the nose or ears that make them more prone to middle-ear problems (and the ear fullness that comes along with them).

Sinus rinse and the ears

Many people use sinus rinses to help manage secondary ear problems (sinus infections certainly know how to plug up your ears!). They are often beneficial in this manner, but certain rinses can lead to fullness by artificially introducing fluid into the middle-ear. This is usually a consequence of overly-aggressive squeeze-bottle rinsing efforts. While this situation gradually resolves, it can lead to headaches in some folks, as well as temporary hearing difficulties or even dizziness in others.

ResQRinse is designed to avoid this side effect. The choanal occlusion – which creates a barrier between the back of the throat and the nasal passages – helps prevent the rinse from entering the Eustachian tubes (and finding its way into the middle-ears). ResQRinse use minimizes fullness by keeping the nasal irrigation in the nose (where it belongs), allowing you to get all the benefits of nasal rinsing without the drawbacks. To learn more about the wonders it can do for your nose, please reach out to us!