Your Eustachian tubes are the passageways between your middle ears and the back of your throat. They have several important jobs, including draining fluid from your middle ears and equalizing air pressure between your middle ears and your environment.
When your Eustachian tubes don’t function correctly, it means you have Eustachian tube dysfunction. According to one study, “The incidence of Eustachian tube dysfunction in adults is about 1%, in children almost 40%.” In this post, we review the types of Eustachian tube dysfunction and how the condition is treated.
Types of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
The most common types of Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) include:
- Patulous ETD, which describes when your Eustachian tubes remain open. This causes sound to travel from your nasal cavity to your ears and the sound of your voice to be distorted.
- Obstructive ETD, which describes when your Eustachian tubes don’t open as they should. This causes fluid to pool in the middle ear as well as pain and pressure to build in the ear.
- Baro-challenge-induced ETD, which also describes when the Eustachian tubes don’t open properly, specifically when you experience changes in altitude.
Treatment for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
Most cases of ETD resolve on their own. If yours doesn’t, you can try the following interventions.
Home remedies that can provide relief from ETD include:
- Chewing gum
- Doing the Valsalva maneuver (pinching your nose, closing your mouth and breathing out quickly)
- Using saline spray to clear the nasal passages
If home remedies don’t do the trick, an over-the-counter medication from Hub City Pharmacy on John White Sr. Boulevard might, such as:
- Antihistamines (cetirizine or diphenhydramine)
- Pain relievers (acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
If none of the above options work, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician may prescribe:
Rarely, in severe cases of ETD, surgery may be necessary. Some surgical options include:
- Myringotomy, where an expert ENT physician makes a small incision in your eardrum to drain fluid from your middle ear.
- Pressure equalization tubes, where small ventilation tubes are placed in the eardrum to allow fluid to drain and air pressure to equalize. These typically fall out on their own within about a year. Most commonly, this procedure is performed on children.
- Eustachian tuboplasty, which is a newer procedure where your Eustachian tubes are expanded with a tiny balloon.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call Spartanburg | Greer ENT & Allergy today.