What is the Eustachian Tube?
The eustachian tubes are small tubes that connect the middle ear with the back of the nose. They help ventilate and drain mucus from the middle ear. They are normally closed, but open with swallowing, yawning, chewing, and positive pressure.
How Common is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?
Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) affects about 1% of adults and occurs when the eustachian tube does not open properly or becomes blocked. Air pressure on either side of the eardrum becomes uneven and can cause fullness, muffled hearing, pain, ringing, and dizziness. Common causes include a cold or sinus infection, allergies, or large adenoids. ETD also occurs if someone cannot equalize the pressure between the middle ear and surrounding atmosphere while flying or diving.
What are the Complications of ETD?
While ETD usually resolves on its own, persistent untreated ETD can lead to problems such as middle ear effusions, infections, and cholesteatomas.
How is ETD be Avoided or Treated?
Avoid flying when congested with allergies or an upper respiratory infection. Using decongestants prior to flying, and sipping water and chewing gum during takeoff and landing can help.
Using decongestants such as Sudafed, antihistamines such as Claritin or Zyrtec, and steroid nasal sprays such as Flonase can improve ETD.
When ETD leads to recurrent ear infections or persistent fluid in the middle ear, ear tubes can be placed to help drain fluid and ventilate the ear. More severe ear infections or cholesteatomas require surgery, such as tympanomastoidectomy.
Call River ENT at (512) 677-6368 for more information or to schedule an appointment.