Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

When the Eustachian Tube becomes blocked and fails to open properly, it is called Eustachian Tube Dysfunction(ETD).

SYMPTOMS OF ETD

When Eustachian tube gets blocked you might experience the following symptoms –

  • Ears feel plugged or full
  • Hearing is muffled
  • Pain in one or both ears
  • Ringing sound or tinnitus in the ears
  • Popping sounds in the ear
  • In some cases, dizziness
  • Some children may express intolerance to loud sounds

Dr Rao’s ENT is India’s foremost ENT Super Speciality Hospital to offer ETD treatment through Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation.

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What is Eustachian Tube and what are it's functions?

The Eustachian Tube is a small passageway that connects the upper part of your throat to the middle ear. It controls the air pressure behind the eardrum & middle ear space and prevents build-up of fluid & discharges. In day to day life, the Eustachian tube opens when you sneeze, yawn or swallow food. The “pop” you hear when descending a plane or diving is caused by the Eustachian tube.

The Eustachian Tube performs the following functions –

  • Ventilate the middle ear
  • Protect the middle ear from infections and disease
  • Drain away fluids from the middle ear
  • Prevent the reflux of nasopharyngeal secretions into the middle ear
  • Helps the eardrum vibrate allowing us to hear

Causes of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

  • ETD is caused when the Eustachian tubes get inflamed leading to build up of mucus or fluid in the middle ear. Common causes of ETD are –
    • Common cold
    • Ear or sinus infections
    • Allergies
    • Activities involving sudden change of altitude such as flying, gliding, scuba diving, mountaineering
    • In rare cases enlarged adenoids or tumors in the nasopharynx (upper part of the throat behind the nose)

    Children, smokers and obese people are at a higher risk of ETD.

Potential complications from untreated ETD

Leaving ETD untreated can lead to further ear complications such as –

  • Otitis media
  • Damage to the middle ear and eardrum
  • Collapse of the eardrum into the middle ear
  • Perforation of the eardrum

Diagnosis & treatment of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction


The most commonly used tests for diagnosis of ETD are nasal endoscopy, tympanometry and sonotubometry.

After diagnosis, Dr Rao’s ENT would recommend the recommended treatment plan which would include any of the following –

  • Through medication –
    • Using decongestant sprays to reduce the swelling of the tube
    • If ETD is caused by allergies, antihistamines are recommended to reduce allergies
  • Surgical treatment –
    • Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation – A small balloon is inflated into the Eustachian tube through the nose to clear the passageway for mucus and air, to know more click here (takes to the surgery page)
    • Myringotomy – The ENT surgeon makes a tiny incision in the eardrum and any fluid in the middle ear is removed through suction. A tiny hollow pressure equalization tube may be inserted which provides middle ear ventilation for 6-12 months.

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