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Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing

ENT Physician & Audiologist located in Houston, TX

Chances are you’re familiar with needing to pop your ears and the discomfort you feel when you can’t make it happen. Patients with chronic eustachian tube dysfunction feel it much more often.  This uncomfortable and often painful condition is treatable! ENT specialist Conrad McCutcheon, MD, FACS, at Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing offers personalized treatment to heal the source of your eustachian tube dysfunction and restore ear health. Call our Houston, Texas office or schedule an appointment online today to get relief from ear pain and other symptoms of eustachian tube dysfunction.

What are the eustachian tubes?

The eustachian tubes (auditory tubes) are narrow canals connecting the middle ear to your nose and upper throat. The tubes have valves that stay closed until you yawn, sneeze, or swallow, and then they open, releasing air pressure and fluids from the middle ear.

Equalizing air pressure

The middle ear is an air-filled chamber behind your eardrum. The eustachian tubes ensure that the air pressure inside the middle ear stays the same as the air around you.

Equalizing the air pressure is essential to ensure the eardrum works and sound waves reach your inner ear. The eardrum bulges when the middle ear pressure builds up and can rupture without treatment.

Draining fluids

Glands inside the eustachian tubes produce mucus that usually cleans and protects them. However, the fluids accumulate if the eustachian tube doesn’t open to let them drain.

What is eustachian tube dysfunction?

Eustachian tube dysfunction is when any problem stops one or both tubes from working. In most cases, allergies and infections like the flu or a cold cause inflammation and congestion inside the tubes. As a result, the valve can’t open, and pressure and fluids build up.

Though less common, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can lead to eustachian tube dysfunction. Another type of dysfunction occurs when the tube stays open, often due to neuromuscular disease and chronic nasal allergies.

What signs might eustachian tube dysfunction cause?

Signs of eustachian tube dysfunction include:

  • Ear pain
  • Muffled or diminished hearing
  • Ringing in your ear (tinnitus)
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Tickling, popping, or clicking sensations in your ear
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness and vertigo (the sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning)

If the tube stays open, your voice and breathing sound louder than usual.

How is eustachian tube dysfunction treated?

After determining the cause of your eustachian tube dysfunction, Dr. McCutcheon prescribes the best treatment for you. You may need antihistamines, decongestants, antibiotics, allergy or sinus treatments.

If conservative therapies don’t help or the blockage is severe, Dr. McCutcheon may recommend a minimally invasive eustachian tube balloon dilation to unclog the tube and restore function. 

Call Memorial Village Sinus and Hearing or book an appointment online today to get relief from eustachian tube dysfunction.