Symptoms of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) can cause dulled hearing. It is usually a temporary problem that lasts a week or two and most frequently takes place throughout and after a cold. There are different other causes and sometimes it lasts longer. Often, no treatment is required but decongestants, antihistamines, or a steroid nasal spray sometimes assist.

What is the Eustachian tube and what does it do?

The Eustachian tube is a narrow tube that links the space behind the eardrum (the middle ear) with the back of the nose. In grownups it has to do with 3-4 cm long. The middle ear is normally filled with air. The air in the middle ear is regularly being taken in by the cells that line the middle ear. So, fresh products of air are needed to get to the middle ear from time to time.

The Eustachian tube is typically closed but opens when we swallow, yawn or chew. This enables air to flow into the middle ear and any mucus to drain. This keeps the air pressure equal either side of the eardrum. Having equivalent air pressure on each side of the eardrum and the middle ear free of mucus, assists the eardrum to vibrate. This vibration is needed for us to hear correctly.

How do we hear?

Acoustic waves hit the eardrum. Vibrations of the eardrum pass on to tiny bones (the ossicles) in the middle ear. These bones transmit the vibrations to the cochlea in the inner ear. Sound signals are sent from the cochlea to the ear nerve and after that on to the brain.

What is Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD)?

ETD implies that the Eustachian tube is obstructed or does closed appropriately. Air can not then enter the middle ear. For that reason, the air pressure on the outer side of the eardrum becomes higher than the air pressure in the center ear. This presses the eardrum inward. The eardrum becomes tense and does not vibrate so well when hit by sound waves.

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Symptoms

The main symptom is smothered or dulled hearing. You may likewise have ear pain since the eardrum is tensed and stretched. Other eustachian tube dysfunction symptoms that might likewise develop consist of a feeling of fullness in the ear, sounding or buzzing in the ear (tinnitus) and lightheadedness. One or both ears might be impacted.

Symptoms can last from a few hours to several weeks or more. It depends upon the cause. In most cases due to a cold (the typical cause) the symptoms are likely to go within a week approximately. As symptoms are relieving, you may have popping sensations or noises in the ear. Likewise, the dulled hearing may come and go for a brief time prior to getting back to typical.

Causes of Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD)

ETD happens if the Eustachian tube becomes blocked, if the lining of the tube swells, or if television does not open completely to allow air to take a trip to the middle ear.

Colds and other nasal, sinus, ear or throat infections

This is the common reason for ETD. The blocked nose, or thick mucus that establishes throughout a cold or other infections, may block the Eustachian tube. An infection may also trigger the lining of the Eustachian tube to end up being irritated and inflamed. Most individuals will have had one or more episodes in their life when they have had a cold and find that they can not hear so well due to ETD. The symptoms of ETD may persist for approximately a week or so (in some cases longer) after the other symptoms of the infection have gone. This is due to the fact that the caught mucus and swelling may take a while to clear even when the germ triggering the infection has actually gone.

In some cases the infection is extremely moderate. Perhaps a moderate cold with a mild bunged-up nose. However, ETD might still develop in some people for a while.

Glue ear

Glue ear is a condition where the middle ear fills with glue-like fluid. The Eustachian tube ends up being busy and prevents the totally free circulation of air into the middle ear, triggering the difference in atmospheric pressure mentioned above. The eardrum becomes tight, minimizing its ability to vibrate, resulting in dulled hearing. The scenario is intensified by the glue-like fluid damping down the vibrations of the drum even further. It is a common condition in children. It clears by itself in many cases however some children need an operation to resolve the problem.


Allergies that influence the nose, such as consistent rhinitis and hay fever, can cause additional mucus and swelling around the Eustachian tube and lead to ETD.


Anything that causes a clog to the Eustachian tube can cause ETD – for example, bigger adenoids. Seldom, ETD can be a symptom of tumours that develop at the back of the nose. These will typically cause other symptoms in addition to ETD.

Flight and the Eustachian tube

Some a lot of people establish ear pain when descending to land during an airplane trip. It is caused by unequal pressures that develop on either side of the eardrum as the airplane comes down. As an airplane descends, the air pressure becomes higher nearer the ground. This pushes the eardrum inwards which can be unpleasant. In most people, simply regular swallowing and chewing quickly trigger air to take a trip up the Eustachian tube to equalise the pressure.

Some airlines offer sweets to draw and eat when the airplane is coming down, to motivate you to chew and ingest. However, if you have a slim Eustachian tube, a cold, or anything else that can trigger clog to the Eustachian tube, the pressure does not equalise very easily when the plane descends. This can trigger severe ear pain.

What is the treatment for Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD)?

Treatment options depend on the cause and severity of the condition.

Typically, no treatment is required

Oftentimes, the ETD is moderate and does not last longer than a couple of days or a week or so. For instance, this prevails following a cold. No specific treatment is needed and the eustachian tube dysfunction symptoms frequently quickly go.

Aim to get air to stream into the Eustachian tube

Air is more likely to stream in and out of the Eustachian tube if you swallow, yawn or chew. Likewise, try doing the following. Breathe in. Then, attempt to breathe out gently with your mouth closed and pinching your nose (the Valsalva manoeuvre). In this method, no air is burnt out but you are gently pressing air into the Eustachian tube. If you do this you may feel your ears go ‘pop’ as air is forced into the middle ear. This sometimes alleviates the issue. This is an especially good thing to attempt if you develop ear pain when descending to land in an airplane.

Decongestant nasal sprays or drops

A decongestant may be encouraged by your doctor if you have a cold or other cause of nasal blockage. You can buy these from pharmacies. They may quickly alleviate an obstructed nose. Nevertheless, you should not utilize a decongestant spray or drops for more than 5-7 days at a time. If they are used for longer than this, they may cause an even worse rebound blockage in the nose.

Antihistamine tablets or nasal sprays

Antihistamines may be encouraged by your doctor if you have an allergy such as hay fever. In this situation they will assist to ease nasal blockage and swelling.

Steroid nasal spray

A steroid nasal spray might be encouraged if an allergy or other reason for relentless inflammation in the nose is thought. It works by minimizing swelling in the nose. It takes a number of days for a steroid spray to build up to its complete result. For that reason, you will not have an instant relief of symptoms when you first start it. Nevertheless, if any inflammation is reduced in the back of the nose then the Eustachian tube is able to work better.

Referral to an expert

If symptoms continue or the cause of the ETD is not clear, you might be referred to an ear specialist for evaluation. Treatment choices depend upon any underlying cause that might be found. A treatment just recently developed is called balloon dilatation. This includes placing a small tube with a small balloon on the end into the Eustachian tube through the nose. The balloon is filled with seawater and left in location for a few minutes in order to stretch the Eustachian tube. Presently the treatment is just being utilized as part of research but might be authorised for general use if trials are favourable.


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