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What is ETD (Eustachian Tube Dysfunction)? And how do you treat it?

Eustachian tubes are small passages that run between the Middle Ear on each side of your head and the upper part of your throat. These little tubes are responsible for ventilating and equalizing pressure in the Middle Ear. They also help prevent infection by draining fluid that may accumulate in the Middle Ear.

Your Eustachian tubes are normally closed. When you sneeze, swallow, or yawn, the tubes open to prevent air pressure and fluid from building up inside your ear. These passageways are quite narrow and can get plugged for a variety of reasons. This blockage is referred to as Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD).

These can be symptoms of ETD. (1)

  • fullness in your ears
  • feeling like your ears are “plugged”
  • muffled hearing
  • ringing in your ears, also known as tinnitus
  • clicking or popping sounds
  • ticklish feelings in your ears
  • ear pain

Your symptoms may get worse when you experience changes in altitude. This includes flying in an airplane, riding in elevators, driving through mountains, or diving.

The length of time that ETD symptoms last depends on the initial cause. Symptoms from an altitude change may resolve once you return to your usual altitude, whereas, an illness or abnormality in the Eustachian tube may result in longer-lasting or more frequent symptoms.

A Middle Ear Infection may also cause these additional symptoms. (2)

  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Treatment for ETD depends on both the severity and cause of your symptoms.

Symptoms of ETD may resolve on their own, especially if they are related to a temporary cause like altitude change. Also, over-the-counter medications may help in specific situations, such as antihistamines to control allergies, decongestants to reduce swelling, and pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

However, if your symptoms are unrelieved after about 10 days, or you have symptoms of an ear infection, or you have repeated episodes of ETD, you need to consult with our Ear Nose & Throat specialist, Dr. Rajiv Pandit. It’s important for him to determine the real cause of your symptoms first to select the safest and most effective treatment.

What about Eustachian Tube surgery?

The lining of your Eustachian tubes is similar to the tissue inside your nasal cavity and tends to respond similarly to conditions like allergies, colds, and infections – with inflammation, swelling and drainage.

Based on this similarity, an effective treatment for sinus obstruction has now been applied successfully to Eustachian tube blockages. It’s called Balloon Dilation and gives you a new treatment option that’s less invasive than traditional surgery and more effective than medical treatment alone. The safety and effectiveness of balloon dilation for ETD have been clinically proven in a number of studies that showed highly successful results with fewer complications. (3)

Using an endoscopic balloon dilation system, Dr. Pandit can insert a small balloon through your nose and into the blocked Eustachian tube. When it is inflated, the balloon opens the passageway so that fluid and air can flow and the tube functions normally again. And this is a procedure Dr. Pandit can perform in the office under local anesthesia. You can enjoy fast, effective relief without the inconvenience of a hospital visit or the pain of a surgical procedure.

You don’t have to suffer with Eustachian Tube Dysfunction any longer.

If you are experiencing chronic ear pain, or any of the symptoms of ETD, call and schedule a consultation with Dr. Pandit to find out if you may be a candidate for Eustachian tube dilation. The knowledgeable professionals at Dallas ENT Head & Neck Surgery will be happy to address your questions and concerns.

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