Pronounced: u-STA-shi-an tube dis-FUNC-shin
The eustachian tube is a small canal that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose and upper throat. Its purpose is to equalize the air pressure in the middle ear with the pressure outside it.
Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) occurs when the tube fails to open during swallowing or yawning. This results in a difference between the air pressure inside and outside the middle ear.
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ETD is caused by poor function or blockage of the eustachian tube, including:
Factors that may increase your chance of getting ETD include:
Symptoms can include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your ears will be examined. If your case is severe, your may need to see an otolaryngologist, a doctor who specializes in ear disorders.
You may have tests done on your ears. This may include:
To deal with ear clogging, discomfort, or pain, you can try:
If the symptoms do not go away within a few hours or are severe, your doctor may recommend the following medications:
In rare cases, a myringotomy may be necessary. The doctor makes an incision in the eardrum to allow the pressure to equalize and the fluid to drain.
To help reduce your chances of getting ETD, take the following steps:
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Hearing Research Foundation
Canadian Academy of Audiology
The Canadian Hearing Society
Barotrauma. American Hearing Research Foundation website. Available at: http://american-hearing.org/disorders/barotrauma/ . Updated October 2012. Accessed September 13, 2013.
Eustachian tube dysfunction. McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign website. Available at: http://www.mckinle... . Updated March 24, 2007. Accessed September 13, 2013.
General information about nasopharyngeal cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.... . Updated June 21, 2013. Accessed September 13, 2013.
Eustachian tube dysfunction. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Eustachian-Tube-Dysfunction.htm . Updated March 15, 2012. Accessed September 13, 2013.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013