Eustachian Tube Dysfunction: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments

Posted on: 10 January 2023

Your eustachian tubes are small tubes that connect your ears to your throat. They help maintain optimal pressure in your ears and help promote the drainage of secretions. Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) is a condition that refers to the blockage or inflammation of your eustachian tubes.

If you have ETD, your eustachian tubes may not open and close as they should. ETD has various causes and your family care doctor will recommend the proper treatment for your eustachian tube dysfunction based on the cause. Here are some causes, symptoms, and treatments of eustachian tube dysfunction.

ETD Causes And Symptoms

Some of the most common causes of ETD include allergies, flu, and colds. Other causes of eustachian tube dysfunction include gastroesophageal reflux disease, also called GERD, as well as changes in barometric pressure and altitude. All of these conditions can cause excessive fluid buildup and inflammation inside your ears, which can lead to blocked eustachian tubes. Symptoms of eustachian tube dysfunction include difficulty hearing, ringing in the ears, ear fullness, earache, and itching inside your ears. It may also cause popping or crunching sounds, dizziness, problems with balance, and vertigo. If an infection has caused your ETD, you may also experience fever, muscle pain, appetite loss, headache, and chills.

ETD Treatment Options

Simple home remedies such as using a saline nasal spray and chewing gum can help relieve your symptoms, however, medications such as antihistamines may work better. Antihistamines help dry up the fluid in your tubes, which can help decrease inflammation and pressure inside your ears. Both oral and nasal spray decongestants can also help unblock your eustachian tubes, restore your hearing, and alleviate vertigo, dizziness, and balance problems.

Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and a heating pad can help soothe ear pain and reduce middle ear inflammation. If you do not have a heating pad, use a warm moist compress. If your ETD is caused by a bacterial infection, your family care doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics. Fungal and viral ear infections do not respond to antibiotic treatment, and because of this, will not be prescribed by your physician. 

If you develop symptoms of eustachian tube dysfunction, make an appointment with your family care doctor. If your ETD becomes chronic, then your doctor may recommend other treatment options such as surgery to drain the fluid from your ears. Other treatments include inserting drainage tubes inside your ears and prescribing corticosteroid medications to suppress middle ear inflammation. Prompt treatment will help ensure that you have a speedy and uneventful recovery and a lower risk for permanent hearing loss and eardrum perforation.