According to a review published in the National Library of Medicine, “The Eustachian tube is a narrow tube which links the back of the nose to the middle ear. It is normally closed but opens when we swallow, yawn or chew. The Eustachian tube has three main functions: to protect the middle ear from pathogens; to ventilate the middle ear, which can help to keep the air pressure equal on either side of the eardrum, enabling the eardrum to work and vibrate properly; and to help drain secretions from the middle ear cleft.”
When your Eustachian tubes can’t perform one or all of these functions, you are experiencing a Eustachian tube disorder. We review how these are treated below.
Some home remedies for Eustachian tube dysfunction include:
- Chewing gum
- Using a saline spray to clear out the nasal passages
- Trying the Valsalva maneuver, which entails breathing out forcefully while closing your mouth and pinching your nostrils
If you suspect your baby has Eustachian tube dysfunction, try giving them a pacifier or a bottle, as the sucking motion can help clear the blockage.
If none of the home remedies work, you can try an over-the-counter medication to address the underlying issue. For example, antihistamines and corticosteroids can help if your Eustachian tube dysfunction is due to allergies. If you’re still experiencing pain, you can take a pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
If your Eustachian tube dysfunction is due to an infection, your provider may prescribe antibiotics.
Only in rare, severe cases is surgery necessary to correct Eustachian tube dysfunction. Some surgeries that can help with this include:
- Myringotomy, where your surgeon makes a small incision in your eardrum to drain fluid from the middle ears.
- Pressure equalization tubes, which provide proper ventilation for the middle ears and last up to one year.
- Eustachian tuboplasty, which is a new procedure that involves opening the Eustachian tubes with a tiny balloon inserted through your nasal passages.
For more information about Eustachian tube dysfunction or to schedule an appointment with an expert, call Arizona Desert Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists today.