Ear pressure, crackling and post nasal drip worse after eating

Posted , 10 users are following.

I've been suffering with chronic Eustachian tube dysfunction for 19 months now. I have crackling sounds in my ears every time I swallow and ear pressure build up every time I drive or travel. The pressure in my ears seems to flare up about 10-15 minutes after eating a meal, the bigger the meal the more/longer the pain/clogged ears.

I do have allergies, using a daily nasal spray which gives me some temporary relief, also use the Neti Pot daily and I've been getting allergy shots for about a year now.

Symptoms sometimes get better for a couple of days, then back to misery. I sleep well but as the day goes on it gets worse and worse with the evenings being the worst.

Thank you for any help

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15 Replies

  • Posted

    Have you had a hearing test and tympanometry to see what your middle ear system is doing? Ask the audiologist to perform tympanometry before eating and then at various intervals after eating. Following this, an ENT should be able to help you. If they don't, get a second opinion from another ENT. Sometimes you have to keep on asking until you get answers. 
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    • Posted

      Yes, I've had the hearing test done twice. Both times the results were fine. Visually my ears look perfect and my hearing is good too. My latest visit to the ENT (a follow up visit) resulted in him suggesting a gluten-free diet. Not sure if that's going to help. We also talked about doing a throat scope to check for silent reflux, but I have to get a referral from my GP first and return for that. Eating definitely seems to have an effect on that symptoms. 
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  • Posted

    I too have been diagnosed with ETD for several months. Mine is also the worst after eating! I notice that if I eat soft foods all day, like soup, with no chewing, my ears are much better. I also quit all dairy for about a month and my ears really improved. Then suddenly, they were back to being very bothersome again (still being dairy-free)

    I had a chiropractor adjust my neck to relieve the symptoms of ETD (no luck) but he's the one who told me about cutting out dairy because it causes more mucus in the body. And more mucus equals worse ETD. I've also noticed that after vigorous cardio, my ears feel better and there is less crackling and popping. My ears are also worse at night. When I'm on vacation, my ears hardly crack, pop, or feel blocked. I wonder if there is a stress component involved? I'm going to be trying more and more remedies, while still trying to remain dairy free. Good luck!

    If anyone else on here has ANY tips, tricks, advice...please share!

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    • Posted

      Hi Megan,

      Yes, it sounds like you have almost exactly what I'm suffering with. It definitely has something to do with eating, chewing or swallowing. I know that the eustachian tubes are actuated by swallowing, but the symptoms are different depending on what I eat or drink. Generally thorugh the pain is worst at night after dinner and best in the morning when I wake up. I've asked my dentist twice about TMJ but he doesn't think I have that - yet for me it feels like my bite is off and I can feel some clicking in my jaw although nothing significant. I'm going to try a new dentist next month after my new insurance kicks in. In the meantime I'm still getting the allergy shots every 2 weeks, switching to once a month in February. I don't really have any of the typical allergy symptoms, only the mucus in the nose which is mostly dry and hard. 

      The NeilMed nasal wash gives me some relief for a few hours, but I only use it about twice a week now. It washes out your sinuses and clears out the entry point of the eustachian tube - so at least it's a temporary relief. Hope this helps, you can pick it up at any Walgreens and CVS

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    • Posted

      Sounds like allergies are the cause, especially if things clear up when you're on vacation. Get an intradermal allergy test from an ent allergist, a regular allergist won't do this. It seems to not be well known that in certain people (myself included) etd is the primary symptom of allergic response. I really have no other symptoms and struggled to find the cause of my etd but per advice I found online I got the intradermal test which indicated allergies to indoor allergens. I always thought I had no allergies. But Once I started minimizing my exposure to those my etd started clearing up. I was a bit skeptical at first but like you I started noticing that when I spent significant time away from home or outdoors I would start feeling normal ear wise for the first time in a long time. Of course for those who are allergic to things like pollen, etc. immunotherapy is the only treatment.

      If you get symptoms after eating you should look at food allergies. Again get an allergy test from an ent, eustachian tubes are very small so it doesn't take much inflammation to block them. As such a skin prick test isn't necessarily sensitive enough.

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    • Posted

      Rather than seeing a dentist, try and find a TMJ specialist. Hopefully they will be able to tell you absolutely, if this is a TMJ problem. If it's not that is one thing you can tick off. Good luck!!!!
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    • Posted

      Hi Josh, have you tried chewing bubble gum for 30minutes to see if it causes the same problem. If it doesn't then it may be food allergy but if it does then it is most likely the action of chewing. Might narrow it down for you. All the best!!!
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    • Posted

      I have had exactly the same problems -- stuffy/full and crackling ears for 3 years. Drives me crazy. The cracklling  is triggered by clanging sounds -- dishes, silverware, etc. hitting each other, tinny sounds such as microphone amplified voices, and even voices on cell phones. Been to 6 specialists -- all COMPLETELY USELESS.  Not a single one has been able to help me. Why? Because if everything is allegedly "normal", then nothing is wrong -- and my hearing tests, etc. all came back normal. Tried decongestants, allergy medicines, fluticasone, netti potts, various ear drops. The congestion/crackling is ALWAYS notably worse inside buildings, houses, etc. Also is worse in low pressure weather conditions. I was tested for major allergens -- trees, grass, etc. twice. But they did not test for indoor allergens, food allergies, etc. So, that's what I apparently need to do: Find an ENT Allergist. Kaiser Permanente doesn't have these, i don't think (I hate HMOs).  Don't even know where to begin. Any ideas?

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  • Posted

    If your tympanogram is normal i.e. ear pressure and ear drum movement is normal when symptoms are experienced; and a slight conductive/middle ear hearing loss doesn't then it is not ETD (eustachian tube dysfunction). Perhaps it is PET (Patulous Eustachian Tube.) Although it doesn't make sense, ETD (Eustachian Tube Dysfunction) is not the same as PET (Patulous Eustachian Tube). Both are dysfunctional eustachian tubes but they are often confused and share some similar symptoms. ETD is a blocked eustachian tube whereas PET is a eustachian tube that is too open. They are treated differently although both can often be treated with a tympanostomy tube (also known as a grommet, T-tube, ear tube, pressure equalization tube and PE tube. When you are searching for answers on the internet about your eustachian tube problems, make sure you know which one you suffer with as many posts are confusing these two etiologies. It is possible to have both ETD and PET at different times or in each ear. Always see an ENT/Otolaryngologist if your stymptoms are not improving and if necessary get a second opinion from a different ENT as PET is still often mistaken as ETD. Be clear about your symptoms.  Where do you hear your voice/breathing/pulsating/tinnitus from? What do you think caused it? What makes it worse or better? What other symptoms do you experience ie ear fullness, blocked ear, hearing loss, discomfort to loud sounds etc. 
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    • Posted

      Hi Olizzieo,

      Thank you for the info and ideas. Most of my symptoms are a clogged/plugged ear sensation. It seems to be worse in the evenings and after most meals (especially larger meals). Sometimes I can go all day without noticing it and then the next day I'm suffering non-stop. Doctors thought that I had an underlying congestion and the swalloing (eating) just caused it to act up. I get crackling sounds in my ear anytime I swallow and occasionally tinnititus (high pitched sound), but that's not too common (thank god). I know that I have seasonal allergies, but the symptoms seem to be year-round for 2+ years now. I live in the Las Vegas valley, so we have lots of weird allergies in the air and lots of dust. I had allergy shots for 1.5 years with little to no improvement and I've tried the usuall Zyrtec etc type drugs for a while.

      My other idea was acid reflux, more precisely silent reflux. I had the scope test done and even a 48-hr test done where they insert a sensor in your esophagus to test PD levels for 2 days. The results were mild-positive (Demeester score of around 12), but gastro-doctor felt that it wasn't enough to cause ear problems. 

      Trust me, I have searched so many forums online that I got tired and sick of reading about it. Unfortunately nobody seems to post any results or solutions, only the neverending complaints. That's why I started my own blog here and started responding to others to help.

      I've been suffering with ETD for 3 years in November and still don't know the cause. Your help and thoughts is very much appreciated

       

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    • Posted

      I wonder if ballooning of your eustachian tubes would help? America are leading the way with ballooning so perhaps find an ENT who does this and give it a go. It's non surgical which is great, and has had a lot of success. smile

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    • Posted

      Im in america. They dont all do this. You have to find them. Rare. I have had two adult sets of ear tubes..worked well but now scarring and i dont  think can get anymore of them. I had a bad cold in april and  it refracted eustatian tube. Sound sensitive. Hear what sounds like a sonogram. My ent said they do clear up can take months. Some years. No One offered me surgery for it. Im miserable. And i have anxiety to boot. Sound sensitive stinks. It isnt a popular surgery yet. I think the etd treatments are only as good as the doctor you see. The main treatment is leave it alone and use steam inhalation. I have had this before where it resolved itself but didnt have the funny duzz noise then. And i have tmj too. Ugh
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  • Posted

    Hi everyone. I just signed in to this forum!!! I don't even know where to begin other than asking any of you if you have metal implants of any sort???? I have been sick for 18 months now and it's been since I had 2 metal discs out in my neck. My biggest issue is sinus and ears. Fullness, crackling, popping, dripping, pain, you name it. It got worse after I had to fly last january when it started to get real bad. I have been to 4 different ENT's that see NOTHING!! Even Cleveland clinic that is supposed to be the best!! It's a good thing I am as persistent as I am because people out there that aren't, will suffer from metal allergy the rest of their lives. I've had so much testing done I don't even know where I would start to mention it all. I finally, after 18 months of being told I was nuts, have an MRI scheduled for tomorrow morning. I have horrible neck pain and inflammation, in addition to the sinus and ear issues. In the 18 months of this disaster, I have not had an MRI on my neck, only X-rays showing inflammation and the surgeon said it's my posture...not true. To top it off, 2 days after the surgery, I broke out in blisters the size of quarters from shoulder to shoulder and around my incision,.,excuse at the time was that it was latex...if which I've never been allergic to and was tested in April and I'm still not!! I have my phd in clinical psychology and am pretty sure I know what anxiety is and tired of being told this is all in my head!! My pain management Dr has believed me from the beginning and my primary dr finally does as well. The one that brushed me off the most was my surgeon and the 4 ENT's I saw!!! So if any of you have ANY metal in your bodies or mouth, you may want to consider it to be a sensitivity to that causing the sinus and ear issues!!!

    Kristin

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  • Edited

    I know this is an old thread but it's the first I've come across that mentions etd getting worse when eating and drinking. I have cut out everything I can think of but nothing helps; just the more I eat the deafer I get and my eats block. I have lost 4 stone in 5 months because I am terrified of eating. Alcohol makes it a million times worse but not sure if that's because I would sit and have 5 or 6 drinks one after another. If I drank water it would probably have the same effect. I have hyperaucusis as well as sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. It all happened basically overnight when I woke with hearing loss in my left ear. Given steroid nasal spray which has caused these horrific symptoms 😢. The doctors don't care.

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