My Ear Feels Full (Cochlear Hydrops)

by , last modified on 1/25/14
If you like this article, please comment below!

Introductionear

Eustachian tube dysfunction, fluid collection in the middle ear, and sensorineural hearing loss are THE most common causes of ear fullness or clogged sensation in the ear.

HOWEVER, in rare situations, each of these more common causes of ear fullness ends up being not the true problem.

Rather, it is a rare condition called Cochlear Hydrops.

It is an atypical form of Meniere's Disease, but without the dizziness. Symptoms may include some or all of the following:

  • ear fullness/clogged
  • roaring sound in the ear
  • hearing fluctuation
  • sound/speech distortion
  • noise sensitivity, especiually to high frequencies


earSo what IS cochlear hydrops? No one really quiteknows the answer, but the best hypothesis is an excessive amount of fluid pressure built up WITHIN the cochlea (purple in diagram). This condition is different from the fluid in the middle ear (yellow in the diagram) that can be seen and measured.

There is no "test" that will diagnose cochlear hydrops. It is a diagnosis of exclusion which often leads to frustration for both physician and patient.

SO, how does one diagnose cochlear hydrops?

Given it is a diagnosis of exclusion (given there's no specific test for it), this is the typical scenario of how this rare and frustrating condition is diagnosed in our clinic:

  1. Day 1: Initial Consultation with ENT
  2. Week 3: Follow-Up #1
    • Failure to respond to nasal sprays and ear still not clearing with ear popping
    • Nasal endoscopy performed to ensure no nasopharyngeal pathology
    • Treatment started with singulair and oral steroids
  3. Week 5: Follow-Up #2
    • Failure to respond to medical management.
    • Trial myringotomy (hole made in eardrum) in an attempt to "release" any pressure that may be present
  4. Week 9: Post-Procedure Follow-Up
    • Patient reports myringotomy made no difference whatsoever.
    • Suspicion for cochlear hydrops made. Treatment started.


As can be seen, the possibility for cochlear hydrops is not typically raised until over 2 months have passed from initial ENT consultation.

Treatment

Once it is felt that cochlear hydrops is a possibility, treatment is immediately started with dietary restrictions:

  • Complete alcohol elimination
  • Complete caffiene elimination. That means NO decaffeinated coffee, soda pop, tea, chocolate, etc.
  • Complete salt avoidance (ideally less than 1 gram sodium total). That means no adding salt, no canned foods, no microwave dinners, no soy sauce, etc which contains a lot of salt.


Additionally, auditory tests including ABR, ECoG, and VEMPs can be obtained which if abnormal does provide helpful information.

Depending on the response to dietary restrictions, prescription diuretics can also be tried.

Click here to see a list of ear specialists throughout the United States who may be able to help if you suffer from this problem.

Related Blog Articles


Any information provided on this website should not be considered medical advice or a substitute for a consultation with a physician. If you have a medical problem, contact your local physician for diagnosis and treatment. Advertisements present are clearly labelled and in no way support the website or influence the contents.

 


Recommend this Webpage to Others
By Clicking +1!


Join Us on Facebook!
facebook
blog comments powered by Disqus