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Dr Basu
Dr Basu, Experienced Specialist
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 28198
Experience:  MD
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Last month or so I've had fairly constant ear fullness on

Customer Question

For the last month or so I've had fairly constant ear fullness on the left side only. It did not begin with a cold, but was much worse when I did have one. I do suffer from seasonal allergies, but have never had this issue before. Over the last few months I have had a lot of dental work done on this side of my mouth - I needed a crown, so I had the crown prep and then 2 unsuccessful crown fittings before finally having the permanent crown placed. This meant that for 9 weeks I was only chewing on my right side due to the temporary crown. I have never been diagnosed with TMJ but I do think I may have at least a minor case of it. My jaw tilts to the right when I open my mouth wide and I get jaw pain if I chew gum. I wondered if this could have caused the problem.
I don't seem to have any other significant symptoms. Once over the month it seemed like my ear drained a bit, but just a very small amount of clear liquid. I went to the doctor once to have it checked when it became painful and they told me it was just some fluid build up, no infection, and to try a decongestant. I just took Benadryl since I had it on hand and it relieved the pain, but did not completely resolve the fullness. I'm wondering what could be causing this. The main reason I worry is because of a family history of cholesteatoma. I don't know that there is a genetic predisposition to this, since it's caused mostly by chronic ear infection, but my mother had one as a teenager and my father had them chronically throughout his life until having his entire middle ear removed in late adulthood. I haven't had smelly drainage or any of the other common symptoms of cholesteatoma, but I've also never had long-term fullness like this, so it started to concern me.
Any ideas on what might be causing this and what action to take next are welcome. Thank you!
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr Basu replied 12 months ago.

Hi there,
This is Dr Basu, experienced Internal Medicine Specialist.
I am here to address your concerns and provide great service.

Eustachian tube dysfunction is a common cause of ear fullness.

This tube connects the middle ear cavity to the throat.

Inflammation from allergies or dental works can block this tube and prevents air ventilation in the middle ear cavity.

Treatment consists of a steroid nasal spray like Flonase twice daily, a decongestant like Sudafed 120 mg twice daily for 2-3 weeks.

Infection is unlikely since you do not have any fever, swollen glands or any ear drainage.

You should consult with a ENT specialist as well.

Best wishes,
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