What Is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?

Eustachian tube dysfunction is an affliction that can lead to a chronic ear pressure and pain or discomfort with barometric changes. Typically, when you yawn, chew, sneeze, or swallow, your Eustachian tubes – small passageways that run between your middle ear and upper throat – open to keep pressure and fluid from building up. If you experience a blocked Eustachian tube – also known as Eustachian tube dysfunction – your ears may feel full or painful, and your hearing may seem muffled.

What are the causes of Eustachian tube dysfunction?

Altitude changes can also cause problems with the Eustachian tubes or aggravate existing inflammation. Activities such as diving, hiking, flying on a plane, or even riding an elevator could cause symptoms.

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Symptoms

A buildup of mucus in the middle ear causes symptons. Symptoms are often mild and limited to a few days following a cold or flu. If symptoms last more than two weeks, recur frequently, or are severe, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Treatment

Eustachian tube dysfunction usually resolves in a few days to two weeks without treatment. You can take certain actions to open up the tubes, such as swallowing, yawning, or chewing gum. And, you can try the Valsalva maneuver at home by plugging your nose, closer your mouth, puff out your cheeks, and swallow. Babies and toddlers with Eustachian tube dysfunction may benefit from frequent feeding or sucking on a pacifier.

If these strategies don’t help, your doctor may suggest options for medical management.

What Causes Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?

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If the Eustachian tubes become inflamed – typically due to illness or allergies – mucus or fluid can build up. This improper drainage causes the pressure, fullness, pain, and/or hearing changes that characterize the condition.

What are the causes of Eustachian tube dysfunction?

Colds, flus, sinus infections, or allergies can cause the Eustachian tube in one or both ears to become inflamed, preventing proper mucus drainage and leading to symptoms. Altitude changes can also cause problems with the Eustachian tubes or aggravate existing inflammation. Activities such as hiking, flying on a plane, or even riding an elevator could cause symptoms.

An unmet Need

A 2016 study showed that most ENTs are seeing at least four patients with Eustachian tube dysfunction symptoms each week.6 With some 2 million doctor visits annually, these patients are in need of an effective treatment option.30

Limited treatment options

Of the 7.3 million adults suffering from Eustachian tube dysfunction, approximately only 111 thousand of those patients are getting treatment.3 This could be because current treatment options for Eustachian tube dysfunction are limited and invasive. Some options provide temporary relief, but often cause other problems.

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Hope for relief

There is histological evidence that demonstrates balloon dilation of the Eustachian tubes crushes the inflamed mucosa that is then sloughed off and replaced with healthy mucosa.7 Additionally, a number of clinical studies have examined the safety and effectiveness of Eustachian tube balloon dilation. These studies demonstrate high rates of technical success along with a very low incidence of adverse events.8,9

A recent prospective, multicenter, randomized trial of the XprESS® balloon dilation device in patients with persistent ETD demonstrated superior clinical evidence over medical treatment with a 0% complication rate.10

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