Sinus Surgery

How to Fix Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

January 1, 2021

6 minutes

If you are struggling with the pain caused by blocked ear tubes, chances are you’re wondering how to fix eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD). Fortunately, there are many remedies available to help relieve patients from ETD, including home remedies and medication for less serious cases, as well as medical procedures for chronic Eustachian tube dysfunction. Of the latter, Eustichian tube balloon dilation has proved the most successful at providing long term relief from chronic and recurring Eustachian tube dysfunction.

Let’s explore different treatment options for how to fix Eustachian tube dysfunction.

Causes of chronic Eustachian tube dysfunction

The Eustachian tube is a small tube that connects your throat to your middle ear inside of your eardrum. This tube opens when you yawn, sneeze, or swallow to help keep air pressure and fluids from building up in your ears. A buildup of mucus and/or inflammation in your ears can block the tube. This buildup can be caused by a cold, the flu, allergies, and sinus infections. (For more information on sinusitis and ear infection, check out our article on How Sinus Infections an Ear Infections Can Be Connected.)  

When the Eustachian tube becomes blocked, air cannot get into the middle ear space from the ear canals, causing a difference in air pressure on the outer side of the eardrum and the inner side of the eardrum and resulting in symptoms ranging from muffled sound to ear pain. This difference in pressure creates the pain and symptoms associated with Eustachian tube dysfunction. It can sometimes feel similar to ear pain caused by barometric pressure sinus issues

Though ETD is most common in children, people who smoke or are obese are at higher risk for developing Eustachian tube dysfunction in adults.

FAQ: Is eustachian tube dysfunction serious? 

ETD is a common phenomenon and can often go away on its own. However, long-term and untreated ETD can be associated with middle ear infections and damage to their eardrum over time. 

How do you open a blocked Eustachian tube? Treatment options for Eustachian tube dysfunction.

Now that we know the causes of ETD, we can begin to discuss how to fix Eustachian tube dysfunction with Eustachian tube dysfunction treatment. Since the symptoms of Eustachian tube dysfunction are caused by a buildup of fluid and pressure, the main concern is draining said fluid from the tube and reducing the pressure buildup in the middle ear. In many cases, full Eustachian tube dysfunction treatment includes treating the source of inflammation and build-up. 

Home remedies

Many people will find temporary relief from ETD pressure buildup by chewing gum or yawning. Another popular method is to close your eyes, plug your nose, and blow air to “pop your ears” to relieve some of that pressure, although you should avoid this if you have a cold. However, this will only address the “full feeling” in your ears, not the potential underlying issue. 

Medications

If your eustachian tube dysfunction stems from allergies, cold/flu symptoms, or chronic middle ear infections, your doctor may prescribe medications to address those issues. What you take could depend on the severity of your ETD or the other underlying issues that the symptoms are coupled with. 

Common OTC medications recommended for allergies in particular include: 

  • Allergy medications can keep your allergy symptoms at bay, making it less likely you’ll develop any allergy-related pains or infections. 
  • Decongestants like oral medication or nasal sprays will help to reduce swelling in your nose and ears’ airways. 
  • Antihistamines can be helpful to some patients to reduce inflammation from any allergic reactions.

Although these medications are available OTC, it’s important to follow your doctor’s (or the pharmacist’s) recommendations on how you take them. Combining or overusing allergy medications can actually wind up making your symptoms worse, not better. 

Procedures

In some cases, surgery can be helpful for patients that have severe pain and need relief fast, or for those with chronic symptoms that want lasting relief. Procedures are usually a great option for when over-the-counter medications and at-home remedies just aren’t providing you with the relief you need. The goal of these procedures is to ventilate the middle ear to alleviate pressure and eliminate the clogged feeling in your ear. 

1. Myringotomy

A tiny incision is made in the eardrum to drain the fluid from the middle ear. Though this will provide almost immediate relief, the fluid can return once the incision fully heals. It may not be the best option if you have chronic conditions and are aiming for long-lasting relief. 

2. Pressure equalization tubes

This procedure is similar to the myringotomy where the fluid is drained from the middle ear via incision. After the incision, a hollow tube made out of plastic or metal is inserted into the eardrum and provides ventilation for about 6-12 months. The tube is slowly pushed out as the incision heals. Again, this may only be a temporary fix and not the long-term solution to how to fix eustachian tube dysfunction. 

3. Eustachian tube balloon dilation 

Eustachian tube balloon dilation opens up the tunnel that connects the middle ear with the back of the nose. During the procedure, your doctor will use anesthesia to numb your nose. He or she will then place a tiny deflated balloon on the end of an endoscopic instrument in the clogged Eustachian tube pathway. Your doctor will then gently inflate the balloon, allowing pressure to release and drainage to clear and eliminating your pain. Unlike with a myringotomy or the insertion of tubes, the procedure does not involve incisions that close up over time. 

More on Eustachian tube balloon dilation and fixing ETD

Eusachian tube balloon dilation is a quick and effective procedure that’s become increasingly popular amongst patients looking for how to fix Eustachian tube dysfunction in the long term.  Similar to balloon sinuplasty, is non-invasive, requires no incisions, takes as little as 3 minutes, can take place in-office, and requires very little recovery time. For an increasing number of patients, the benefits of Eustachian tube balloon dilation make it the best option for treating their eustachian tube dysfunction. 

Interested in fixing your Eustachian tube dysfunction? Call Kaplan Sinus Relief today.

If you’re looking for answers on how to fix Eustachian tube dysfunction, Eustachian tube balloon dilation in Houston could be the long-term solution for you. Kaplan Sinus Relief is proud to offer Eustachian tube balloon dilation to Houstonians as well as help treat any underlying sinus issues that may be causing ETD in the first place. 

Call Dr. Kaplan and his team at 713-766-1818 with any questions or schedule an appointment online today. Lasting relief could be one phone call away.

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