According to the National Library of Medicine, the Eustachian tubes are narrow passageways that connect the middle ear to the back of the throat. They typically remain closed but open when you chew, swallow or yawn. The Eustachian tubes have three main functions: protecting the middle ear from pathogens, ventilating the middle ear to equalize air pressure with the environment and draining fluids from the middle ear.
Sometimes, the Eustachian tubes can malfunction. This is known as Eustachian tube dysfunction. We cover everything you need to know about Eustachian tube dysfunction below.
What Are the Different Types of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?
There are three main types of Eustachian tube dysfunction:
- Patulous ETD occurs when your Eustachian tubes stay open all the time, causing sound to travel from your nasal cavity to your ears and distorting the sound of your voice.
- Obstructive ETD means your Eustachian tubes don’t open like they should, causing fluid to accumulate in the middle ear.
- Baro-challenge-induced ETD occurs when your Eustachian tubes don’t open properly during altitude changes.
What Are the Symptoms of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?
Common symptoms of Eustachian tube dysfunction include:
- Hearing loss
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Clicking or popping sounds
- Fullness in the ears
- Dizziness or vertigo
What Causes Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?
The most common causes of Eustachian tube dysfunction include allergies and infections like the cold and flu. Conditions like these cause inflammation and mucus buildup, including within the Eustachian tubes. Altitude changes, like when taking off or landing at Philadelphia International Airport can also cause Eustachian tube dysfunction.
How Is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Treated?
In most cases, Eustachian tube dysfunction clears up on its own. It can also be managed with:
- Home remedies such as chewing gum, yawning, swallowing or trying the Valsalva maneuver (breathing out forcefully while closing the mouth and pinching the nostrils).
- Medications like antihistamines and decongestants can clear up allergies, while over-the-counter pain relievers can help with discomfort. If your Eustachian tube dysfunction results in an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.
- Surgery may be necessary in rare cases.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Pinnacle ENT today.