Causes and Symptoms of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD), even when temporary, can be enormously distracting. Many cases resolve on their own after a day or two or can be relieved by chewing gum or yawning. Persistent symptoms like ringing in the ear, dizziness or loss of hearing should be seen by an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) without delay. Your condition needs to be correctly diagnosed to avoid serious complications and the possibility of irreversible damage to your hearing.
What Is a Eustachian Tube and What Does It Do?
In each ear, there are narrow passages that link the middle ear to the back of the nose. These tubes allow ventilation of the middle ear, prevent and/or drain fluid and secretion build-up in the middle ear and help avoid inner ear infections and diseases.
The middle of the tube is normally closed, like a gate, but opens when we chew, yawn or swallow. When open, air pressure is equalized between the inner and outer ear and we have a proper sense of balance. The equalized pressure enables the ear drum to vibrate optimally for hearing and identifying sounds.
Symptoms of Dysfunction
In almost all cases, eustachian tube dysfunction begins when the narrow bony-cartilaginous junction (the “gate”) is blocked or fails to open properly. Air cannot enter the middle ear, making it impossible to maintain proper equilibrium. Because there is more pressure on the outside of the ear drum, the drum is pushed inward, limiting its ability to vibrate and allow you to perceive sound.
Symptoms may include:
- Reduced ability to hear. Feeling like you have cotton in your ears or loss of hearing range, particularly in the upper ranges.
- Pain in the middle ear. This can be sharp or dull.
- A sensation like your ear is full of liquid.
- Ringing or buzzing.
- Loss of equilibrium or a vertigo that increases when you move.
What Causes ETD?
There can be many causes for ETD, but they generally boil down to the following:
- Infection in the ear, sinus, throat or nasal passage. Cold or flu generates thick mucus and inflammation of the eustachian tube lining. This can take time to resolve, even after the cold is gone.
- Glue ear. Common in children, a glue-like substance blocks the eustachian and brings about the common symptoms as described.
- Enlarged adenoids, tumors (rare) or other obstructions that block the eustachian tubes.
Treatment for ETD: Why You Should Choose Dr. Shervin Aminpour
ETD may be a temporary affliction that will disappear on its own or there may be a more serious, chronic condition underlying your symptoms. Treatments can range from over-the-counter medications or antibiotics, to surgery. Dr. Aminpour is an ENT specialist, trained in both medicine and surgery. He has the experience necessary to diagnose and treat disorders of the ear even when the causes are complex or related to other areas of the body such as the head and neck.
Always continuing his education into new advancements in the ENT field, Dr. Aminpour is experienced in the Acclarent Aera Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation System. This advanced technology makes it possible to treat persistent ETD without surgery.
While some ENT physicians specialize in specific areas, such as laryngology, rhinology, allergies, pediatric services, neurotology, tumors and reconstructive surgery, Dr. Aminpour has trained extensively in all of them and can develop a course of treatment for patients suffering from a wide range of disorders. If you are experiencing loss of hearing, ringing in the ears or dizziness, call for an appointment (818-857-5258) – you will be diagnosed and treated by one of the leading ENT specialists in Los Angeles.