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Eustacian Tube Dysfunction

WHAT IS EUSTACIAN TUBE DYSFUNTION?

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD) occurs when the Eustachian tube, a narrow passageway connecting the middle ear with the nose, is blocked or malfunctions and fails to allow pressure to equalize on both sides of the ear drum.

Everyone has experienced ETD before when they have had a cold, allergies or gone up a mountain. It is that “plugged up” feeling that is occasionally accompanied by “popping” or “crackling” noises when you yawn.

The middle ear is a pressure-filled space, which, under normal circumstances, has equally the same pressure as the environmental (outside) air pressure. When the environmental air pressure changes quickly, a normally functioning Eustachian tube will “pop” and the pressure both inside and outside the middle ear becomes equal. If the Eustachian tube does not “pop” but instead remains closed the result is pain and fullness within the inner ear, this condition is called Eustachian tube dysfunction.

In some circumstances, ETD occurs when the Eustachian tube is chronically open, causing a condition referred to as a Patulous Eustachian tube. This condition causes an individual to feel as they are “talking from inside a barrel” when they hear themselves speaking (autophony).

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF EUSTACIAN TUBE DYFUNCTION?

The causes of Eustachian tube dysfunction are variable but some of the root causes are:

  • Allergies;
  • Chronic otitis media (ear infection);
  • Malformation of the Eustachian tube, occasionally present in conjunction with other outer and middle ear disorders such as in atresia and microtia.
  • Cleft Palate (complete or partial known as “sub-mucosal cleft”
  • Tumors
  • Barotrauma

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR EUSTACIAN TUBE DYFUNCTION?

Treatment for ETD must begin with a comprehensive medical examination by an otologist and an audiologist in order to pinpoint the root issue for the ETD. After examination, the otologist may prescribe oral or topical medications, or recommend a minor surgical procedure known as a myringotomy, either with or without placement of Pressure Equalization tubes (PE tubes).

CONCLUSION:

Diagnosis of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction requires a comprehensive medical examination and specialty care from an Otologist, who is an otolaryngologist (ENT) who has undergone two additional years of training and specializes in issues related to the nerves of hearing. With appropriate medical treatment and therapy, individuals with ETD can make a partial or even full recovery.

Click here to make an appointment with the California Ear Institute to consult with one of our board certified Otologists regarding your condition.

 

 

 


 
California Ear Institute