Ear Pressure, Dizziness/Woozy feeling and imbalance. ETD ?

Posted , 24 users are following.


My problems started exactly one year ago. I started having this woozy feeling which is somewhat hard to describe. Its like my head is heavy.Its almost constantly there, and i can always feel it in the background, its like a mild wooziness in the frontal part of my head. around the same time i also developed ear blockage that wouldnt seem to go away, ive tried countless medications for that. 

Ive always had spring allergies so i thought it had come early that year, and visited my ENT who started me on corticosteroid sprays and a mucolytic, but the problem just persisted and wouldnt go away. ear pressure(mainly in left ear) + dizziness + a sensitiviy to loud sounds + imbalance when walking(feels strange) although i must mention i never fell down or anything. I would wake up in the morning and sounds would feel just annoying in my ear( doors closing/ knives+forks dropping on plates .. etc). 

Fast forward to this day, and i have visited over 6 different ENT specialists and 1 Neurology specialist. I had done a CT, MRI, an EEG and some bloodwork. All came back normal. I have tried countless medications, from antibiotics to corticosteroid sprays to Betacerc and finally anti anxiety medication. Ive been on anti anxiety medication for 2 weeks now, still cant tell if my symptoms are getting better .. 

To summarize : 

1 year of dizziness, ear pressure , sensitivity to sound , and feeling of dysequilibrium. final diagnosis is Anxiety. 

Could it be ETD ? i have no negative pressure value in my ear upo examination( normal tympanometry result) and no retracted tympanic membare on otoscopy. Does that rule out ETD ? or could the Eustachian tube be blocked without having signs on examination ? 

This past year was not easy, this has had a huge impact on my life and its my first time posting here. I would love to hear everyones opinion, each and every reply is highly appreciated.  

Thank you

PS: I thought i must mention, im a medical student in my final year. so specific medical info is highly appreciated too smile.

0 likes, 61 replies

61 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi, yes the tympanogram results rule out eustachian tube dysfunction. Two things it could be with normal tympanograms are: patulous eustachien tube dysfunction - but the symptoms are hearing your voice and/or breathing loudly in your head OR semi cirular canal dehiscence(SCCD). Both of these are regularly missed by ENTs. Read up on both and see what you think. Did they so scans for SCCD?
    • Posted

      ive looked into SCCD, i definitely do have some of symptoms.My teaching ENT doctor(i regularly visit him) actually suggested i should get a thin cut temporal bone CT just in case.

      Will do that soon. Thanks for the reply!

    • Posted

      I hope you get an answer soon. Good luck!!!
  • Posted


    I can so so empathise with you! I have identical symptoms and experiences! Mine have been going on for just over a year too.

    I've now been fitted with a hearing aid as of yesterday which is supposed to help with the mild hearing loss which manifested when my ear pressure started. I was told this might help as straining to hear affects the small muscle inside the ear (I'm sorry I'm not a medical person but that's how I interpreted it! ) which in turn could be the reason for the fullness /pressure feeling in my ear.

    It's also been suggested it could be migraine with vertigo! Or menniers disease! Who knows? !!

    It's all very distressing and frustrating as I feel like I'm going round in circles and getting nowhere!

    Regards Carmen

    • Posted

      So youve yet to get a diagnosis too ?

      I do have ear pressure, i dont have any hearing loss though.

  • Posted

    With SCCD, make sure they have performed the BEST imaging for SCDS (Semi circular dehiscence syndrome) is a high resolution 0.5 mm collimation or less CT of the temporal bones with images that are REFORMATTED to include cuts in the plane of (Poschel) and perpendicular (Stenver) to the superior canals.

    If this is negative you could also look at teeth/TMJ, neck or back problems that could cause these symptoms.

    • Posted

      Yep, thanks for the detailed info ! Im going to get the CT soon. Well report back.

      What problems in my teeth could cause this ?

      Will definitely look into TMJ.


    • Posted

      Mainly referred pain. I don't think this is what is happening but just trying to give you any leads to follow that might be worth looking at if you keep hitting a dead end.

  • Posted

    Wait before you agree to anxiety and lord does it trigger anxiety. look up tmj. Bad tmj. Im trying to find help for it. Its so difficult to find unless you live inside a big city. I have a etd in one year not severe though. All my junk followed flu but i had tmj before just managed. It can do alot of stuff. All you mentioned as well. A maxillary surgeon does xrays and usually over time your face kind of look square. Not an actual square but hopefully you know what i mean. I sometimes get this ear twitch inside. It has a name unsure. But its frieughtening. Thats a instant anxiety attack. This is all very anxiety producing. Obviously if we had no emotions nothing would rattle any of us. Its being in a chronic condition, have an illness or a malfunction that triggers anxiety attacks and anxiety many times too. 

    I dont think they really cover tmj in med school. Maybe in dental school they would. Or nueromuscular stuff. Basically stay with what they understand and can correct. The more obvious and standard.

    look up tmj thouroughly and the organziations for the same,

    • Posted

      Thanks for the advice Lisa, really do appreciate it :D.

      Hope you get well soon !

  • Posted

    Hi M992,

    I think it is quite likely you have the same condition as me.  The symptoms you described are a good fit.  I can relate to the sounds of plates.  Clapping is also very annoying.

    - Imbalance dizziness

    - Aural Fulliness

    - Hyperacusis

    The condition is called Superior Canal Dehiscence or SSCD or SCDS.  It is often misdiagnosed.  Symptoms are caused by a small hole in the temporal bone covering the superior semicircular canal.  Diagnosis requires a special high resolution scan to look for this pin size hole.  VEMP tests are often used to confirm the image finding.

    I am curious if you have Autophony.  Do you hear your own voice louder than normal when you talk.  Can you hear any internal body sounds, like blinking, eye movements?

    Got to run but would be interested to discuss more later.

    • Posted

      I do have a few of the symptoms related to SCDS, not autophony though i dont have that. Im getting the CT scan soon, i have to rule it out as a cause.
    • Posted

      It is a good idea to rule this out.  A lot of the vestibular conditions don't have direct testing.  Drs need to diagnose based on case history and clinical observations.  The CT scan is quite informative to rule out SCDS.  Since SCDS it is rare, the temporal CT scan is not often ordered.   I started off with only the mild imbalance dizziness for about 6 years.  Then I picked up the ear fulliness.  I was lucky, based on just my mild symptoms my ENT ordered the proper testing and was able to diagnose my SCDS.

      My fingers are crossed for you NOT having SCDS.  Sorry to hear about your noise sensitivity.  I can truely empathise.

  • Posted

    I had otitis externa (actually went to left ear after right ear was being treated, think I know how this happened but not relevant) for weeks (WEEKS) because my original ENT just did not do what he should have and the sub-specialist I first saw (at Albany Med Center) was arrogant and awful (never become that kind of Doctor!)  Then I was referred by someone who works there to another sub specialist who is fantastic.  He treated the problem, both ears needed debridement (very painful and scary) five times.  Right ear is now almost normal, left ear still has weeping skin but not anywhere near what it was (drops first Dr. prescribed, along with far too many antibiotics, caused yeast overgrowth and contact dermatitis).  Now about ETD: I have it.  I think it is the result of all the manipulation of my ear canals, the dry skin, and the fact that I was POPPING my ears desperately trying to hear normally for WEEKS (can't remember what this is called but NEVER DO IT).  Doctor said this is very common and some dizziness is associated with it along with heightened anxiety.  It will go away since I have never had this before, I just have to wait until this naturally occurs.  You've had all the tests required and nothing has been found?  Then your Eustachian tube "problem" can be normal for you (as it appears to be for many others) or it will eventually stop.  Are you anxious because of this?  OF COURSE YOU ARE, SO AM I, SO WOULD ANYONE BE!  But you have to put this into perspective: it will not kill you, it is not hurting you, it is annoying but your emotional reaction is what is doing the most harm (as is mine to me!)  Dizziness, light headed feeling, the perception that one ear is hearing differently from the other....I think these can be psychological.  STOP medicating yourself.  STOP taking/using all OTC medications, you might be making this much worse by irritating your Eustachian tubes (especially with nasal sprays).  Just leave it alone.  Set a date in the future, let's say June 1.  Until then, do your best to ignore this.  You may forget all about it by June 1.  As an aside, this is a wonderful lesson for a medical student.  Now you will be able to understand the high anxiety of some of your patients even after you tell them they are healthy.  <3

  • Posted

    PS:  The person who suggested you have Superior Canal Dehiscence really is not doing you any favors.  Do you think not ONE of the specialists you consulted doesn't know about this condition? Really?  It also happens to be very rare.  Just saying.

    • Posted

      Oh what a lovely thing to say about a Human being you know nothing about, you have no idea what I'm living with, and yet I am here trying to help other people.  Shame on you, really.  Don't talk to me.  TY.

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