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What's to Know About Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?

by - January 15, 2019

The Eustachian tube runs from the middle ear into the back part of your nose and throat. Whether this tube becomes plugged or infected, it can cause Eustachian tube dysfunction.

There are always a couple different causes of eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD), and also certain factors may make a person more at risk. Eustachian tube dysfunction is most often easily treated in the home, although persistent symptoms may want a visit to a doctor for treatment.



What are the Eustachian Tubes?

The eustachian tubes are canals on each side of the face that runs from the back part of the nose and upper throat into the middle ear. They remain closed most of the time but will open just as a person swallows, chews, or yawns.

The eustachian tubes help modulate ear pressure and drain excess fluid from the middle ear, moving into your throat to become expunged.

The canals at these tubes are tiny therefore blockages can happen for many reasons. Blocked eustachian tubes can cause discomfort and hearing problems, and also any one of these symptoms can be known as ETD.

Causes

ETD covers a wide range of symptoms also has a range of potential causes. Spicy allergies and illnesses that create inflammation while in the area, such as for instance the flu or cold, are common causes of ETD.

Sinus infections can also activate ETD, being a sinus infection causes the eustachian tubes to become inflamed or filled with mucus. More serious infections can cause ETD as well.

Simple changes in elevation or air pressure may also activate ETD. Driving up a hill or sitting at a plane can cause ETD, and maybe just riding the elevator in a tall building may be enough for some people to develop disagreeable symptoms.

Risk factors

ETD symptoms may be set off by diving and higher altitude trekking.

It's common to experience ETD occasionally, but some people get symptoms more regularly than others. People who smoke may become more at risk for experiencing ETD, as smoking damages the delicate hairs at the throat and middle ear.

People who are obese may also become more likely to experience ETD symptoms. That is because fatty tissue deposits can form around the eustachian tubes, making it more likely that they will become closed off.

Doing some specific activities may also set a person more at risk for pressure changes, which could cause ETD symptoms. These activities include things like:

·         Walking in a top elevation
·         rock climbing
·         ski or ski
·         ski diving

Children are also more at risk for ETD, because their eustachian tubes are much smaller therefore more likely to become obstructed by mucus or germs. A kid's immune system is also less equipped to fight off infections, since it's not fully developed. Children have more frequent colds and sinus infections, which are lead causes of ETD.

Symptoms

Symptoms of ETD can vary from person to person. Common symptoms include:

·         A plugged feeling from the ears
·         tinnitus, or ringing in the ear
·         muffled hearing or partial hearing loss
·         ticking or popping sounds
·         pain and tenderness around the ear
·         a tingling or tingling sensation
·         trouble with balance

The length and severity of ETD symptoms depend in their cause. For example, if ETD is caused by an alteration in elevation, these symptoms will often go away as your body adjusts to blood pressure or reaches at a lower elevation.

On the other side, ETD caused by a sickness or infection can last much longer. Anyone with symptoms of ETD that last more than two weeks should see a doctor. Children with symptoms of ETD should see a doctor sooner, whilst the symptoms of ETD are similar to a ear infection.

Diagnosis

ETD is often easily diagnosed during a call to your doctor. Your doctor may ask questions about hearing changes, pain in the ears, or feelings of pressure.

In case ETD is being caused by another disease or disorder, a doctor may ask questions about that as well in order to ascertain the correct treatment.

Medical intervention

In case the symptoms of ETD are caused by a bacterial infection, then a doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. This may become considered a topical treatment or an oral antibiotic. Some doctors may prescribe oral steroids as well.

Long lasting, severe cases of ETD are not common but can demand extensive and sometimes invasive treatments. In these cases, doctors may make a small cut from the eardrum to help with fluid drainage.

These are enhancements that balance the pressure from the ears and also help reduce the chances of middle ear infections. New treatment methods, such as for instance eustachian tube balloon dilation, are also being studied.

Outlook

ETD is common, but most cases resolve with very little or no help. Treating the underlying cause would be your best way to treat and prevent recurring symptoms of ETD.


Children or adults that get frequent ear infections should speak with some doctor to consider more thorough treatments.

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