Eustachian tube dysfunction: what it is, symptoms, and treatment

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 The eustachian tubes are small tubes that connect the middle ear that to the throat. They are responsible for ventilating and equalizing pressure in the ear and can also help prevent ear infections by draining fluid.

 Normally working tubes are closed except for when we sneeze, yawn, or swallow. During these times they open to release pressure.

 When something blocks these tubes, it’s known as Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.

About Eustachian tube dysfunction

Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) affects the middle ear and can cause pain, hearing loss, and other symptoms. It occurs when the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat, becomes blocked or narrows. This blockage can lead to fluid buildup in the middle ear, resulting in muffled hearing or feeling like your ears are clogged or full. In some cases, it can cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Common causes of ETD

ETD is most often caused by allergies or respiratory illnesses such as colds or sinus infections but may also be caused by structural problems with either your Eustachian tubes or your inner ear structures.

The symptoms of ETD

Symptoms can vary and will likely get worse when you change altitudes, including flying, riding in an elevator, diving, or driving through mountains.

The symptoms may resolve when you reach a normal altitude, but if they don’t, you may need treatment. 

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Symptoms include:

  • Ear fullness
  • Plugged ears
  • Tinnitus
  • Clicking or popping in the ears
  • Muffled hearing
  • A ticklish feeling inside the ears
  • Ear pain
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea

Fortunately, there are treatments available for ETD that can help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

ETD treatment options

In the past, the most common treatments for ETD were medications and surgical procedures. However, medicine didn't always get the job done, and traditional eustachian tube surgery was invasive and came with a long recovery period.

Now, there is a better way.

Eustachian tube balloon dilation: a minimally invasive approach to middle ear health

Balloon dilation is a minimally invasive treatment option that has recently become more popular than traditional ETD treatments. It can be done right in the doctor's office, quickly and with minimal discomfort. The procedure involves inserting a small balloon catheter into the Eustachian tube and then inflating it. This expands the tube, improving airflow and pressure equalization within the ear.

The safety and effectiveness of eustachian tube balloon dilation has been proven time and time again in a number of studies.

The results of the treatment include fewer complications and fast, effective relief.

You can get relief from your ETD pain with Pittsburgh Sinus Center

At Pittsburgh Sinus Center, our patients can rest assured that they are in the best hands when it comes to treating Eustachian tube dysfunction. With our minimally invasive approaches, we are able to provide fast and effective relief with far fewer complications than traditional treatments or surgeries.

We understand how uncomfortable ETD symptoms can be and strive to ensure that you receive quality care every step of the way so you can get back to living life without ear pain or fullness holding you back.

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