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What Causes Fluid in the Ear?

Fluid in the ear is a common condition known as otitis media with effusion or OME. With this condition, fluid accumulates behind the eardrum and causes symptoms including pain, a plugged sensation, ringing in the ears, and even hearing loss. 

There are several potential causes of fluid in the ear, the most common of which include:

Sinus Congestion

Sinus congestion, whether caused by a cold or another type of infection, can lead to the accumulation of fluid in the ear. This is because congestion blocks the eustachian tube, which links the throat to the middle ear. When this passage is blocked, fluid can’t drain properly and the pressure in the ears becomes imbalanced. 


Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to an allergen, such as pollen. This immune response often causes swelling in the eustachian tube. This, like sinus congestion, can imbalance the pressure in the ears and cause built-up fluid.  


Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, occurs when the tissue lining the sinuses becomes inflamed and infected. This condition most often results from the common cold or allergies. Sinusitis can cause swelling in the eustachian tube and, as a result, otitis media with effusion.  


Chemical irritants, such as cigarette smoke, can lead to swelling in the nose, throat, and eyes. This leads to inflammation in the sinuses, which may in turn cause fluid in the ears. 

Barometric Pressure Changes

Fast changes in air (barometric) pressure can create a vacuum in the ear. Typically, this extends the eardrum, leading to pain. In some cases, fast air pressure changes can also cause fluid to build up in the ear.

At ENT Associates, we provide comprehensive treatment for ear disorders, including fluid in the ear. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and achieve relief from your symptoms. 

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ENT Associates Main Office

1330 South Fort Harrison
Clearwater, FL 33756

Phone: 727-441-3588
Fax: 727-461-1038

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