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What is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD)?

798px-Eustachian_Tube_(PSF)Eustachian Tube Dysfunction or ETD occurs when the Eustachian tube gets blocked resulting in temporary hearing problems which do not last for more than a week.

Eustachian Tube & Its Function:

Eustachian tube is a narrow tube that connects the inner part of the ear known as middle ear with the back of the nose and upper throat. The air that enters the middle ear gets absorbed by the cells that line it constantly. To keep up with the demand, fresh air supply is necessary from time to time.

The Eustachian tube opens only when you yawn or swallow or chew food. It remains closed otherwise. The opening action of the tube allows fresh air to enter the middle ear and lets out the mucus. This activity in turn helps in maintaining equal air pressure on both the sides of eardrum.

Mucus free middle ear and equal air pressure on either sides of eardrum help in proper functioning (vibration) of eardrum which is necessary for normal hearing process.

Blockage of Eustachian tube results in lower air pressure in the middle ear when compared to the outside of the ear, pushing the eardrum inward. This leads to improper vibration of eardrum leading to impaired hearing or Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.

Causes of ETD:

  • Allergies such as hay fever and perennial rhinitis can aid in the formation of extra mucus in and around Eustachian tube.
  • Common cold.
  • Ear or sinus or throat infections.
  • Glue ear – A condition of middle ear characterized by accumulation of a glue-like fluid in the middle ear.
  • Changes in altitude, especially during flying, driving in mountains or scuba diving.

Symptoms:

  • Slight loss of hearing.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fullness sensation in the ears.
  • Pain or discomfort in both the ears.

Treatment for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction:

There is no specific treatment for this condition. All you need to do is try to open up the Eustachian tube.

  • Yawn or chew or swallow.
  • Breathe in. With mouth shut and nostrils pinched, breathe out slowly. By doing so, you are pushing the air towards the middle ear.
  • Antihistamine medications.
  • Decongestants in the form of nasal drops or nasal spray.

Call your medical adviser immediately if the symptoms do not subside even after trying the first 2 treatment options.

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