Pronounced: u-STA-shi-an tube dis-FUNC-shinEn Español (Spanish Version)
The eustachian tube is a small canal that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose and upper throat. Its purpose is to equalize the air pressure in the middle ear with the pressure outside it.
Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) occurs when the tube fails to open during swallowing or yawning. This results in a difference between the air pressure inside and outside the middle ear.
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ETD is caused by poor function or blockage of the eustachian tube, including:
This condition is more common in children.
Factors that may increase your chance of getting ETD include:
Symptoms can include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your ears will be examined. If your case is severe, you may need to see an otolaryngologist, a doctor who specializes in ear disorders.
You may have tests done on your ears. This may include:
To deal with ear clogging, discomfort, or pain, you can try:
If the symptoms do not go away within a few hours or are severe, your doctor may advise the following medications:
In rare cases, a myringotomy may be necessary. An incision will be made in the eardrum to allow the pressure to equalize and the fluid to drain.
To help reduce your chances of getting ETD, take the following steps:
Last reviewed August 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.