Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) is caused by blockage or malfunctioning of the Eustachian tube. When this occurs, air is not accessible to the middle ear and there is more air pressure on the outside of the eardrum in comparison to the air pressure in the middle ear. This pushes the ear drum inward, causing the eardrum the tense up and not vibrate properly when its hit by sound waves.
One major symptom of ETD is dulled or muffled hearing. The stretched and tensed eardrum may also cause some discomfort or pain. Other symptoms you may develop are tinnitus, dizziness, or a feeling of fullness in the ear. Either or both ears may be affected by ETD.
The symptoms you experience can last from a few short hours to months.
Although eustachian tube dysfunction and tinnitus may seem similar, tinnitus is actually a condition where the individual hears sounds that are not heard by others. These sounds appear to originate within the ear or the brain of the individual, and is often characterized by the “ringing of the ears”.
The symptoms of tinnitus can range from pulsing to continuous sounds, low to high pitched frequencies, and can last from a brief period of time or for a long period of time. Tinnitus is often more pronounced in quiet settings.
To relieve yourself from the discomfort, you must open up the eustachian tube to release the pressure. The most popular and useful self-treatments are:
1. Chewing gum. This is very useful for those who experience ETD while on the air plane. This is usually the result of unequal air pressures that can build up while the plane descends.
3. Sucking on sweets
4. Exhaling slowly while plugging your nose and keeping your mouth shut
For those experiencing ETD while on the air plane, they should not fall asleep while the plane is descending. This will help open up the eustachian tube.
Medicines may be useful for individuals who are more susceptible to ETD or experience it more severely.
Try using an antihistamine or an oral or nasal decongestant. Antihistamines are helpful to those who experience ear infections with ETD and decongestants aid in opening up the eustachian tube.
For individuals who do not find relief with self-treatments or medicines, they may need to undergo myringotomy. Myringotomy is the draining of fluid in the middle ear to equalize the pressure from the eardrum to the middle ear. However, surgery is rarely needed to treat eustachian tube dysfunction.