Ever had a condition where you had hearing problems attached to discomfort and fullness feeling in your ear? If you have experienced that you might have been suffering from Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.
Eustachian tube dysfunction is an ailment when the tubes which connect the upper throat part to the middle of the ears become blocked.
Now that you know that you got Eustachian tube dysfunction the question is, is the condition serious? Well, it is not a serious condition and most of the time it gets resolved on its own. So if you have to answer someone, how I cured my Eustachian tube dysfunction? Tell them that it got cured itself in a span of a few days. But, if the problem persists then you should be worried about it and need to get it checked.
What is ETD and how I cured my Eustachian tube dysfunction?
As described above, ETD is known as Eustachian tube dysfunction. Eustachian is the name given to the tubes that connect the throat with the center of the ears.
The Eustachian tube is mainly responsible for equalizing the pressure of the air and helping in draining the fluid from the ears on its own. If for any reason, these tubes become clogged, this leads to Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD).
The Eustachian tube dysfunction gets cured on its own after making the person feel discomfort for a few days but if the discomfort continues then it is time to seek medical help from a doctor.
Any person of any age can get affected by Eustachian tube dysfunction but according to the data, children get more affected by it. To make it simple, about 70% of the children in the United States of America contract Eustachian tube dysfunction before celebrating their 7th birthday whereas only a meager 1% of the adult population in the United States of America get influenced by the illness.
Kinds of Eustachian tube dysfunction
There are different kinds of Eustachian tube dysfunctions. The most common types are obstructive ETC, patulous ETD, and Baro-challenge-induced ETD.
Let’s have a look at these kinds in detail:
- Obstructive ETD: This kind of ETD is quite common and it is caused when the Eustachian tubes are not opening as they should, resulting in discomfort. Because of this, certain kind of ETD, fluid starts accumulating inside the ears creating immense pressure and in some condition pain
- Patulous ETD: As mentioned, the Eustachian tubes must stay open at all times so that the sound can travel through the nasal cavity inside the ears. If it is clogged or blocked, then the sound will become distorted and there will be problems in the hearing of the voices.
- Baro-challenge-induced ETD: This kind of ETD takes place when the Eustachian tubes are unable to remain open perfectly. This usually happens when the person is at a high altitude and this sudden change in the altitude results in the Eustachian tubes shutting down or not remaining open properly.
Symptoms and signs of Eustachian tube dysfunction
There are a number of signs that people experience when they are suffering from Eustachian tube dysfunction before getting clear symptoms.
Some of the most common signs are:
- Tinnitus – this is a condition where a person keeps on feeling a ringing sensation in his ears
- Hearing issues
- Continuous popping sounds
- Continuous clicking sounds
- Experiences pain that is similar to an ear infection
- Feels fullness in the ears
- Tickling sensation in the ears
- Balancing issues
It has been noted that the symptoms of Eustachian tube dysfunction worsen when a person is at a high altitude. If a person feels that his ETD has worsened, then he is definitely suffering from barotrauma.
People can experience barotrauma when they are in an airplane at a high altitude, scuba diving, or driving deep in the mountains.
Causes of Eustachian tube dysfunction
There can be a lot of different causes of Eustachian tube dysfunction. The ETD might get triggered by any kind of allergies. Sometimes a common cold or a mere flu can cause Eustachian tube dysfunction.
The above-mentioned conditions are the reason for fluid accumulation and then clogging of the tubes because they cause a buildup of mucus and inflammation that results in blockage.
Chronic acid reflux or GERD can sometimes also trigger ETD. This is mainly because the acids in the stomach start to back up inside the throat resulting in internal inflammation.
As mentioned above, another common cause of Eustachian tube dysfunction is high altitude as well.
How to diagnose Eustachian tube dysfunction?
As mentioned above, most of the time, Eustachian tube dysfunction heals on its own but if the problem persists then you need to get it checked with a healthcare provider who can examine and note down the symptoms.
The healthcare provider will check the nasal passages, the ear canals, and the inside of the throat to determine what is causing the discomfort.
Treatments of Eustachian tube dysfunction
Eustachian tube dysfunction normally does not require treatment but if the symptoms continue to linger for about two weeks then it is advised to go and see a doctor.
The treatment of the Eustachian tube dysfunction largely depends upon the severity of the condition as well as what caused it.
There are several ways to treat Eustachian tube dysfunction such as medications, and home remedies, and in very rare cases surgery is needed.
Home remedies play a magical role in curing mild Eustachian tube dysfunction cases. These home remedies can clear the blockage of the tubes and you are as healthy as before.
Some of these home remedies are:
- Chewing a gum
- Swallowing saliva
- Trying the Valsalva maneuver (this is a condition in which a person tries to breathe out with force while keeping their mouth close and continuously pinching the nostrils simultaneously)
If a baby is suffering from Eustachian tube dysfunction, then to calm him down and soothe him try a sucking motion that will help in clearing the blockage of the tube. You can also give the child a pacifier or milk bottle for the time being.
If allergies have caused Eustachian tube dysfunction, then there are a lot of over-the-counter medications that can help improve the condition caused by Eustachian tube dysfunction.
An antihistamine like diphenhydramine and cetirizine are very helpful in giving relief from these symptoms.
Apart from the above-mentioned antihistamines, pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen also give relief in the discomfort and relieve pain.
If the infection persists after two weeks, the healthcare provider might prescribe you antibiotics to cure the ETD. he might suggest you take corticosteroids in order to kill the inflammation inside.
Surgery is the only solution in severe cases. If the Eustachian tube dysfunction becomes chronic then the only way to treat the ailment is surgery. The main goal of this surgery is to bypass the Eustachian tubes and directly check the ventilation problems inside the ear. The surgery helps in restoring hearing problems and other symptoms.
Different surgical options are available to treat ETD. They are:
- Eustachian Tuboplasty: This is the procedure in which the Eustachian tubes are expanded with the help of a balloon. The surgeon will use endoscopic instruments in order to thread the balloon from your nasal passages straight to the Eustachian tube. The balloon will remain inflated for about two minutes and later on will be deflated and finally removed from the body.
- Myringotomy: In this procedure, the surgeon will make a little incision on the eardrum in order to drain all the fluid from the middle ear. In children, the incision is closed immediately but in adults, it will be kept open till the swelling of the Eustachian tubes is resolved.
- Pressure equalization of Eustachian tubes: Sometimes, the surgeons will palace ear tubes inside the eardrums to make the incisions. These tubes will remain inside for about a test in order to provide proper ventilation to the middle ear.
Sometimes the surgeons will recommend their patients wear earplugs while traveling, bathing, or swimming to protect the ear tubes. Most of the time, the ear tubes are pushed out once the eardrums are healed completely. However, if the tubes do not stay in their designated place for long then a repeated placement surgery becomes inevitable to treat the Eustachian tube dysfunction.
Can Eustachian tube dysfunction be prevented?
It might be possible to prevent Eustachian tube dysfunction completely but there are certain things that if a person adopts, it surely reduces the risk. For instance:
- A person should wear earplugs before flying at high altitudes
- Avoiding extreme temperatures as this will make the ear-related problems much worse.
- Adopt the habit of drinking a lot of water as this will keep the mucus thin.
Eustachian tube dysfunction is not something serious and usually, it is resolved on its own. If the symptoms do not go away for more than two weeks, then this becomes serious and must be checked by an ENT specialist. Eustachian tube dysfunction may lead to health issues such as tinnitus, damage to the middle ear, or even hearing loss.
It is important to determine the condition of your Eustachian tubes and get treatment as soon as possible to avoid irrevocable damage