Eustachian tubes are the narrow passageways that run between the middle ear and upper throat. Their purpose is to equalize pressure and drain fluid from your middle ear. The eustachian tubes typically remain closed until you chew, swallow or yawn.
These tubes can sometimes become blocked, a condition called eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD).
What Are the Symptoms of ETD?
Symptoms of ETD may be temporary or long-lasting, and typically include:
- Fullness in the ears
- Changes to your hearing
- Ears feeling plugged
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
- Itchiness or a ticklish feeling in the ears
- Ear pain
What Causes ETD?
Allergies and colds are the most common causes of ETD, as they can cause your eustachian tubes to become inflamed or plugged with mucus. People who get frequent sinus infections also commonly suffer from ETD.
Causes may also be environmental and caused by changes in altitude, such as when hiking, driving through mountains or flying on an airplane.
How Is ETD Treated?
While ETD typically resolves itself without treatment, there are solutions to help ease your discomfort. Treatment depends on the severity and underlying cause.
Eustachian Tube Dilation Surgery
Normally, ETD can be helped by over-the-counter pain relievers or allergy medications. If your symptoms persist, eustachian tube balloon dilation may be needed.
At Toledo Clinic ENT, we offer ACCLARENT AERA®, a safe, effective eustachian tube dilation system that is the first of its kind in the U.S.
How Does ACCLARENT AERA Work?
ACCLARENT AERA eustachian tube dilation is a safe, minimally invasive FDA-approved procedure that lasts around an hour. You will receive general anesthesia for the operation.
During that time, your surgeon will insert an endoscope through your nose that leads to your eustachian tube connected to your ear. The surgeon then inserts a small catheter through the passageway and inflates a balloon in the opening for about two minutes.
Possible risks include postsurgical bleeding, infection, and long-term trauma to the eustachian tube—the latter is a rarer occurrence.
Eustachian tube dilation surgery can help if you experience any ETD symptoms on a chronic level. Call us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Perry today.