The Eustachian tubes are the passageways between the middle ears and the back of the throat. Their job is to allow fluid to drain from the middle ear and equalize ear pressure between the middle ear and the environment.
In most cases, the Eustachian tubes remain closed, and they open only when you swallow, yawn or chew. However, in some cases, the Eustachian tube may remain open – when this happens, the Eustachian tube is said to be patulous.
Symptoms of a Patulous Eustachian Tube
The primary symptom of a patulous Eustachian tube is called distorted autophony. This means that your own voice, breathing and pulse sound especially loud. Normally, your brain is able to block out these sounds to some degree.
Some other symptoms include:
- Muffled hearing.
- Tinnitus (ringing, roaring or buzzing sound in the ears).
- Feeling of fullness in the ear.
- Feeling that the ears need to be cleared.
- Pressure changes in the ear when breathing in and out.
Causes of a Patulous Eustachian Tube
Though the underlying cause of a patulous Eustachian tube may not always be obvious or easy to diagnose, it may be attributed to one of the following conditions:
- Stress or anxiety
- Weight loss
- Conditions that affect the jaw, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- Certain medications, including diuretics
- Post-surgery scarring of the nose or throat
- Some neurological disorders, including stroke and multiple sclerosis
Diagnosing a Patulous Eustachian Tube
A patulous Eustachian tube can be diagnosed by an ENT physician at Pinnacle ENT Associates after they take your medical history, review your symptoms and perform a physical exam. They may also perform a standard hearing test called tympanometry, which measures how well the eardrum and middle ear transmit sound vibrations, as well as check for fluid buildup in the middle ear.
Home remedies for a patulous Eustachian tube include:
- Gently sniffing to create a vacuum.
- Lying down or putting your head between your knees.
- Drinking more fluids.
- Using a saline nasal rinse from Philadelphia Pharmacy.
Surgical options for a patulous Eustachian tube include:
- Installing a small plastic tube called a grommet.
- Reconstructing the Eustachian tube with grafts or implants.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.