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Nasal congestion, pain in the ear after blowing the nose. Will this go away?

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ENT Specialist
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Hello, I have been having congestion and a really bad runny nose. I've been blowing my nose a lot for the past two days, and now my left ear hurts (I was closing one nostril several times while blowing my nose). Should I be concerned? Will this go away on its own or should I do something?

Thank you.
Posted Tue, 29 May 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 2 hours later

Thank you for your query.

1. Your ear is probably sore due to the pressure or infection transmitted into the middle ear due to the cold and sneezing. You should get your otorhinolaryngologist (ENT Specialist) to check your ear again to rule out any infection or inflammation. This is also because the middle ear is wet with normal secretions that delay healing.

2. The Eustachian tube is a tube that connects the nasopharynx to the middle ear. It helps equalize air pressure in the middle ear. The Eustachian tube is normally in a collapsed state. It can be voluntarily opened by yawning, swallowing, chewing gum, or performing the valsalva manoeuvre. These actions will not delay the healing process unless you blow your nose too hard too often.

3. You should avoid blowing your nose too hard. If you sneeze, do so with your mouth open to reduce the pressure transmitted to the ears.

4. Do you have hearing loss, dizziness or vertigo?

5. Use xylometazoline nasal drops or a spray such as Otrivin especially on the left side. Drops should be instilled along the lateral (side) wall of the nose, with the head thrown right back while lying down on a bed with a pillow under your shoulder. Alternatively you may use the drops in the 'Mecca' position. This is to ensure that the drops pass over the opening of the Eustachian Tube opening which is situated on the lateral wall of the nasopharynx.

6. Repeated steam inhalation through the nose and mouth for 10-15 min will help. Consult your physician for anti-allergic medication. Ibuprofen will help. Take it after food. Avoid if you are asthmatic.

7. A Tympanogram (Impedance Audiogram) will help decide whether the middle ear pressures are abnormal, necessitating further intervention.

I hope I have answered your query. If you have any follow up queries, I will be available to answer them.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 8 minutes later
Thanks for posting your query.
Forceful blowing of nose along with an upper respiratory infection can cause pressure changes in your ear and cause problems like eustachean tube blockage, damage to eardrum and middle ear and even spread of infection to the ear and sinuses.
In case of mild viral upper respiratory infections , these symptoms like running nose earache, headache etc resolve on their own or with supportive treatment within a week. The supportive treatment includes mostly over the counter medications like analgesics ( acetaminophen , ibuprofen) and antihistamine decongestant medicines like cetrizine , chlorpheniramine etc .
However if the cause is a bacterial infection or damage to the eardrum a thorough evaluation is necessary by a physician or ENT (ear nose throat ) surgeon to confirm the diagnosis and start appropriate antibiotic treatment .
In your case since your symptoms are worsening and the pain is definitely due to forceful blowing it's advisable you consult a doctor for a clinical examination and treatment .The doctor may prescribe analgesic antibiotic ear drops and oral decongestant and antibiotic course as per the need.

Meanwhile you may try saline or decongestant nasal drops, steam inhalations and warm saline throat gargles help in faster recovery and soothing relief.
Please refrain from further forceful blowing .
As of now your condition is a common one , not much worrisome but does warrant further evaluation and treatment .
Hope I have answered your query.
I'll be available for any follow up queries.
Please accept and rate the answer if you have no further queries.
Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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