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What is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD)?

If you have been dealing with symptoms like muffled sounds, plugged ears, an “ear popping” sensation, or ear pain then you may be suffering from Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. ETD usually resolves on its own but when it isn’t going away it can bring life's enjoyment to a dead stop.

What are the Eustachian Tubes?

The eustachian tube is a tiny tube that begins in the middle ear and moves downward to connect the ear and throat. While it may seem like the tiny tube in the back of the ear does not play a big part in daily life, in actuality, it does. The eustachian tube helps to control how much air pressure is behind your eardrum in order to equalize air pressure and protect your eardrum. It also helps to control the quality of sounds and drain the ear to prevent infection. A child's eustachian tube is shorter and flatter which may cause frequent ear infections that you should discuss with an ENT here at Noel ENT.

What is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?

Eustachian tube dysfunction occurs when one of or both of someone’s eustachian tubes becomes blocked. It can lead to symptoms like:

  • A “plugged” feeling in the ears
  • Muffled sounds
  • Ear popping, clicking, or tickling
  • Ear pain
  • Imbalance
  • Ear ringing

If you or a loved one is suffering from any of these symptoms and you have tried natural remedies that don’t seem to work, then you may be suffering from a condition called chronic eustachian tube dysfunction. At Noel ENT we can treat your chronic eustachian tube dysfunction efficiently and effectively.

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Noel ENT professionals treat ETD commonly in children

What causes ETD?

The eustachian tubes help to keep you healthy by capturing foreign matters in mucus and then filtering them out. Because the eustachian tubes are capturing foreign bodies, they have a chance to become swollen. When this happens, the tubes can become blocked and this will prevent fluid and air flow. This leads to hearing problems, balance issues, pain, and discomfort. A few different things can cause chronic ETD including:

  • Allergies can cause inflammation that may cause the eustachian tubes to swell.
  • Sinus infections can cause the sinus cavities to swell which can impact air flow and pressure which may impact the eustachian tubes.
  • Colds and the flu can also cause swelling that may impact the eustachian tubes.

Normally, children will suffer from Eustachian Tube Dysfunction more often because of the shape and size of their tubes but, that doesn't mean that adults are not at risk. Some things that can put adults at a higher risk for ETD are:

Smoking can cause the cilia in the eustachian tube lining to become damaged. The cilia are what help the mucus move out of the tube. When they are damaged they will not move the mucus out and this can lead to more frequent infections and inflammation.

Obesity may lead to larger fat deposits around the eustachian tubes which can squeeze the tubes and cause them not to drain efficiently.

Physical Abnormality
While uncommon, some physical abnormalities can cause the eustachian tubes to drain improperly.

Woman experiencing severe ear pain

What treatments are available for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?

You don't have to continue to live in pain from Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. There are many treatment options out there and at Noel Ent we can help you choose the best treatment for you. Some treatments include:

Treating The Underlying Cause is a good way to treat ETD. If you are always suffering from allergies, sinus infections, or colds, they may be causing your ETD. Getting rid of these causes will ultimately help to reduce your ETD symptoms. Treatments for these may include natural treatments, over-the-counter medicines, and avoiding allergy triggers. Visit Noel ENT for a full comprehensive treatment plan.

There is a Minimally Invasive Eustachian Tube Procedure that may be right for you. The procedure is called Eustachian Tube Dilation and it may be the best option for you if natural remedies and treating the underlying causes are not working. The procedure is similar to other dilation procedures so it is safe, effective, and affordable. During the procedure a small balloon is inserted into the eustachian tube and then inflated. This allows the tube to drain once again.

What about ETD Surgery? Normally, there is a treatment plan that works for most people without having to resort to surgery but sometimes it is necessary. ETD surgery is usually safe and it may include puncturing the eardrum or inserting tubes in order to let the eustachian tubes drain again.

If you think you're suffering from Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and can't seem to find relief, Noel ENT can help.

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