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 that is called Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD).
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.
What Are the Symptoms of ETD?
Symptoms of ETD may be temporary or long lasting, and typically include:
- Fullness in the ear
- Changes to your hearing
- Ears feeling plugged
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ear
- Itchiness or a ticklish feeling in the ear
- Ear pain
How Does Eustachian Tube Dilation Work?
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 ENT Associates of Alabama at (888) 368-5020 for more information or to schedule an appointment.