Eustachian tube dysfunction (chronic full or “stuffy” ear)

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction:

The eustachian tube is a small passage that connects the ear to the back of the nose and upper throat. When functioning properly, the Eustachian tube equalizes the air pressure in the ear.

Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) occurs when the tube fails to function properly, resulting in a difference between the air pressure inside and outside the ear.

ETD is caused by poor function or blockage of the eustachian tube, including:

  • Poor squeezing function within the eustachian tube
  • Narrow eustachian tube— typically in infants
  • Adenoid tissue blocking eustachian tube— typically in children
  • Nasal secretions that cause a blockage
  • Tumors in the back of the nose

Symptoms of Eustachian tube dysfunction can include:

  • Feeling of fullness or clogging in the ear
  • Discomfort or pain in the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ear
  • A sensation of spinning known as vertigo
  • Symptoms that cannot be relieved by swallowing, yawning, or chewing
  • Pain if the blockage results in an infection

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis of eustachian tube dysfunciton is based on symptom history and physical examination. Additional testing may be required, including measurement of the ear pressure, hearing test, or inspecting the opening of the Eustachian tube.

Treatment:

Treatment options vary depending on the patient. There are various treatments for Eustachian tube dysfunction, including medications and, if needed, in-office procedures:

  • Myringotomy a surgical procedure in which a tiny hole is created in the eardrum to relieve pressure.
  • Middle Ear inflation may be done in the office using the Ear Popper device