What is Eustachian Tube and what are its functions?
The Eustachian Tube comprises of small passageways that connect the middle ear to the pharynx. Eustachian Tube ventilates the middle ear and ensures that the air pressure inside the middle ear matches the general environmental air pressure.Also, it drains the infections, accumulated secretions, and debris from the middle ear into the pharynx.
What is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD)?
Generally, the tube opens only while a person sneezes, yawns, or swallows. The nasal opening of the tube remains closed otherwise, preventing the contamination of middle ear.
A Patulous Eustachian tube, i.e. a dysfunctional Eustachian tube which is always open is a rare disorder plaguing the patients with chronic ear infections. In such cases, the dysfunctional Eustachian tube also fails to regulate air pressure causing clicking and popping sensations along with moderate to severe pain.
As the dysfunction worsens, the sounds are perceived as muffled by the ear. Subsequently, a vacuum develops causing the fluid to be drawn into the middle ear, leading to Otitis Media.
Dysfunctional Eustachian Tube also causes pathological changes in the middle ear leading to hearing loss and chronic retraction of tympanic membrane.
- Plugged or full years
- Hearing a muffled sound
- Clicking/popping sensation in the ears
- Constant ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Difficult to maintain balance
These symptoms get worse as and when your altitude increases. For e.g. driving through the mountains, elevators, airplane rides, etc.