July 11th, 2011
08:46 AM ET

My ear is clogged. Should I get antibiotics?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Asked by Nerisa from New York
I had a terrible cold that lasted about two weeks, and my right ear is still clogged with congestion. I find that it gets worse throughout the day, and I get that "popping" feeling when I blow my nose. Should I be on antibiotics?

Expert answer

Thanks for your question, and sorry to hear about your continuing discomfort. The short answer to your question is maybe, but probably not.

If you have a middle ear infection (otitis media) or sinus infection associated with your symptoms, then antibiotics may help. Your doctor can make the diagnosis and prescribe antibiotics if needed.

However, the scenario you describe sounds typical of a problem with the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear with the throat.

I consulted Dr. Aaron Rogers, an otolaryngologist in Atlanta, to provide more information about the symptoms you describe. He shares the following:

"The ear feeling clogged and the clicking during a cold or sinus infection are a result of the Eustachian tube, the ear's natural drainage tube, getting swollen shut - or, more commonly, partly shut.

"That swelling can give you a clicking or popping noise, a feeling of ear fullness, a mild earache or even a sense of disequilibrium (being off balance). The swelling can commonly last a couple of weeks. If the tube stays completely swollen for more than a couple of days, you could even begin to build up fluid behind the eardrum.

"In addition to colds, nasal allergies, sinus infections and even stomach acid reflux can cause the Eustachian tube swelling.

"A middle ear infection from infected fluid behind the eardrum will cause muffled hearing and usually severe pain. This is usually the end result of the Eustachian tube being swollen completely shut for several days.

"Usually, antibiotics are not needed for the sensation of fullness, clicking and mild pressure. In fact, for just plain Eustachian tube dysfunction (or ETD) without infection or allergies, we do not really have a proven medical treatment that is any better than just 'waiting it out.'

"If there are other signs of a lingering sinus infection or the beginnings of an ear infection, antibiotics may be helpful. Other medications such as prescription nasal sprays can at times help treat Eustachian tube dysfunction as well, especially if there is a lot of swelling in the nose from the remnants of a cold or allergies.

"Occasionally, some cold viruses can damage the hearing nerve and may mimic ETD. Other prescription medications may help if started quickly enough.

"Finally, try not to worry about the popping and clicking when you blow your nose - that is just the Eustachian tube trying to open up to get the ear aired out again. These symptoms will go away once the Eustachian tube is working properly.

"If your ear congestion is not clearing in about three to four weeks' time, then getting evaluated by your primary care doctor or an otolaryngologist may be helpful. If needed, hearing and ear pressure tests can be done to see if draining any fluid is needed or whether medications may help."

Follow Dr. Shu on Twitter

soundoff (2,748 Responses)
  1. EncoxAni

    online pharmacy no prescription https://pharmacyken.com/ – the drug store brooks pharmacy store

    May 30, 2021 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 메이저사이트

    Iím amazed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something concerning this.


    May 30, 2021 at 06:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. 메이저사이트

    May I just say what a comfort to find somebody who truly knows what they are talking about over the internet. You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people have to check this out and understand this side of the story. I can't believe you're not more popular since you most certainly possess the gift.


    May 30, 2021 at 07:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Google Marketing Agency


    May 30, 2021 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. truc tirp bong da

    Tin đá Bóng, Tin đưa Nhượng, Live Scorethẻ vàng tv trực tiếp bóng đá ĐT nước Việt Nam nối tiếp chứng tỏ sự vượt lên trội trước những đàn em U22 nước Việt Nam cùng với 2 thắng lợi vào 2 trận đấu nội cỗ. Tin TứcBIDV Quang Trung và quá trình đoạt được giấc mơ còn dang dởSau một mùa giải đầy tiếc nuối, Ngân Hàng BIDV Quang Trung trở lại Giải hạng Nhì – Cúp VietFootball 2021 cùng với quyết tâm giành tấm vé thăng hạng. Rất nhiều ĐộI bóng tấn công tiếng muốn có sự đáp ứng


    May 30, 2021 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Strike Wing Raptor Rising Hack 2021

    Are you searching for a way to enjoy mobile gameplay without any restrictions? You want to be the top player on your favorite action mobile game? We have all you really need and so much more, with our free online hacks! Our game hacks generate millions of resources in your game and provide you an advantage over other players. With our hacks, there are no restrictions to your mobile gaming. Doesn't that seem impressive?


    May 30, 2021 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Truck Mechanic Shop


    May 30, 2021 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. 부산출장마사지

    I'm excited to uncover this site. I wanted to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely liked every part of it and I have you book marked to see new things in your site.


    May 30, 2021 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. thedolive

    Trái Soccer thedolive ĐT nước Việt Nam kế tiếp chứng tỏ sự vượt lên trên trội trước các đàn em U22 nước Việt Nam cùng với 2 thắng lợi trong 2 trận đấu nội bộ. Tin TứcBIDV Quang Trung và hành trình chinh phục giấc mơ còn dang dởSau một mùa giải đầy tiếc nuối, Ngân Hàng BIDV Quang Trung quay về Giải hạng Nhì – Cúp VietFootball 2021 cùng với quyết tâm giành tấm vé thăng hạng. Rất nhiều đội bóng đánh h muốn có sự đáp ứng


    May 30, 2021 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. MileSwa

    generic cialis https://ckacialis.com/ – cialis generic generic cialis site accept mastercard

    May 30, 2021 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ZisseVed

    cialis what age https://krocialis.com/ – online doctor prescription cialis cialis tablets australia

    May 30, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Flatbed Truck Repair

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday. It's always helpful to read articles from other writers and use something from other web sites.


    May 30, 2021 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. 대구출장안마

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I recieve four emails with the same comment. Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks!


    May 30, 2021 at 19:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Digital Marketing Company

    When I initially commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I recieve four emails with the same comment. There has to be a way you can remove me from that service? Many thanks!


    May 30, 2021 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. find this

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!|


    May 30, 2021 at 21:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. ceramic blow bars

    Clifton Steel's is a Hadfield Grade Manganese Steel created to harden with impact. Simply The Best Manganese Wear Plate


    May 30, 2021 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. 메이저사이트

    Great article! We are linking to this particularly great content on our site. Keep up the great writing.


    May 30, 2021 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Mercedes Sprinter Diesel Repair Near Me


    May 30, 2021 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Air Conditioner Repair Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. dortmund coronavirus

    {Bảng bao gồm những số liệu tổng hợp nhằmCâu lạc bộ Chelseaquý khách dễ dàng dàng nắm bắt tình hình, so sánh, phân tích kết quả của những nhóm. quý khách sẽ ngay liền dò được lịch thi đấu mới nhất nhất, kết quả trận đấu, tư vấn soi kèo, và tỷ trọng kèo nhà chiếc. Trang cung cấp những liên kết, đoạn phim truyền hình trực tiếp giải vô địch quốc gia trên toàn thế giới.|Trong khi, Sport 247 sẽ trần thuật thẳng soccer tất cả những trận đấu mới ra trong ngày cùng với những diễn biến chuyển mê hoặc và video clip bàn thắng phiên bản quyền.


    May 31, 2021 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Sprinter Auto Repair

    I was extremely pleased to uncover this site. I want to to thank you for your time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and i also have you bookmarked to look at new information on your site.


    May 31, 2021 at 01:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Digital Marketing Agency Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Content Marketing Business


    May 31, 2021 at 03:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Digital Marketing Near Me

    Hi, I do believe this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit yet again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    May 31, 2021 at 05:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. EncoxDev

    costco canada pharmacy pharmacy tech degree online canadian discount pharmacy belleview fl

    May 31, 2021 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Passenger Van Repair Shop


    May 31, 2021 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV And Trailer Repair Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. 포항출장

    I blog frequently and I really appreciate your information. Your article has really peaked my interest. I will book mark your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.


    May 31, 2021 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. 먹튀검증

    I was excited to uncover this website. I need to to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and I have you book-marked to check out new information on your web site.


    May 31, 2021 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 메이저사이트

    I was excited to find this website. I need to to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every bit of it and i also have you book-marked to look at new stuff in your blog.


    May 31, 2021 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Plumbing Repair Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Zisseloh

    cialis rx dosage cialis taking viagra with cialis

    May 31, 2021 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Video Marketing Business


    May 31, 2021 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Sprinter Service Repair

    You've made some decent points there. I looked on the internet to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.


    May 31, 2021 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Johnson Wirtz

    Grow a second income™


    May 31, 2021 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. 창원출장안마

    Hello! I simply would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for the excellent information you've got right here on this post. I will be returning to your site for more soon.


    May 31, 2021 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Service Repair Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 21:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. jaw crusher wear parts

    Leading Specialty Steel Plate Processing Service Center. Demand A Quote Today! ASME Certified Distributor Of Abrasion Resistant Steel Plates.


    May 31, 2021 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Electrical Repair Near Me


    June 1, 2021 at 02:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Ram High Top Van Repair Shop Near Me


    June 1, 2021 at 05:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Service And Repair Near Me

    I blog quite often and I truly appreciate your information. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    June 1, 2021 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. 2800 Suspension Repair Sprinter Van


    June 1, 2021 at 07:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Suspension Repair Sprinter Van

    After looking over a few of the blog articles on your web site, I truly appreciate your way of blogging. I book marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site as well and tell me what you think.


    June 1, 2021 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. 창원출장안마

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through troubles with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having the same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 1, 2021 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Camper Van Conversion

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your website!


    June 1, 2021 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Utility Van Repair

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it does not fail me as much as this one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I actually believed you'd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you can fix if you weren't too busy searching for attention.


    June 1, 2021 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Luxury Van Repair Shop


    June 1, 2021 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. EncoxAni

    pharmacy open near me drugstore online Bactrim

    June 1, 2021 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Chester Nist

    You're so cool! I do not believe I've truly read through anything like that before. So wonderful to find someone with some unique thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality!


    June 1, 2021 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. EncoxHtf

    cialis dose 365 pills cialis cialis erectile dysfunction

    June 1, 2021 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

July 2011
  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.