Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
What is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD) is a condition where the tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat (Eustachian tube) becomes blocked. This can be due to smoking, allergies, respiratory tract infections, or congenital causes. Between 0.9% and 5% of adults suffer from Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.
Symptoms can include:
- A feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears
- Pain during altitude changes, including flying and diving
- Hearing loss
- Frequent ear infections (otitis media)
- Fluid behind the eardrum
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
If left untreated, long-term ETD may cause damage and rupture of the eardrum, middle ear infections, and hearing loss.
Antihistamines or nasal steroids can sometimes ease the blockage. If that doesn’t work, the standard treatment is to insert plastic tubes that ventilate the ear. These ear tubes eventually fall out, and people who get them should be cautious about submerging their heads in water.
Eustachian Tube Dilation is a novel procedure that can be done in about 20 minutes. Once the balloon is correctly positioned within the Eustachian tube, it is inflated, emptied, and removed.
Recovery is typically fast, with most patients returning to work and normal activity within 1-2 days. Numerous studies have shown the procedure to be both safe and effective.
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