Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, or “ETD”, often manifests as recurrent pressure, pain, hearing loss, ringing, or “fullness” of the ear. It is commonly associated with allergies or sinus problems but can occur on its own as well. If you suspect you have eustachian tube dysfunction it is important to see an ENT to help confirm the diagnosis and/or rule out other problems that may mimic the symptoms.
A hearing test and pressure test (tympanogram) will likely be performed as well as a microscopic examination of your ear and ear drum. Primary medical management is usually centered around the back of the nose, as this is where the eustachian tube opens up to, and may entail saline rinses, nasal steroid sprays, decongestants, allergy medications, and performing a Valsalva (“popping your ear”) to try to clear the eustachian tube. If this fails to resolve the problem, there are procedures that can be considered such as a myringotomy, where a small incision is made in your ear drum, and this may be coupled with placement of an ear tube to “bypass” the eustachian tube. Alternatively, balloon eustachian tube dilation can be considered on the eustachian tube, through the nose, to help it function correctly. Your ENT provider will tailor the medical or procedural approach to your eustachian tube dysfunction depending on your needs.