Eustachian tube problems
Ear Nose | Otorhinolaryngology | Eustachian tube problems (Disease)
The Eustachian tube is a tube that originates in the back of the nose, runs a slightly uphill course, and ends in the middle ear space. The middle ear space is the hollowed out portion of the skull bone that contains the hearing apparatus and is covered on one side by the eardrum. In adults, the Eustachian tube is approximately 35 mm long (1. 3 inches) and approximately 3 mm in diameter (less than 1/10 inch).
The primary function of the Eustachian tube is to ventilate the middle ear space, ensuring that its pressure remains at near normal ambient air pressure. The secondary function of the Eustachian tube is to drain any accumulated secretions, infection, or debris from the middle ear space.
Normally, the Eustachian tube is closed, which helps prevent the inadvertent contamination of the middle ear space by the normal secretions found in the back of the nose. A dysfunctional Eustachian tube that is always open is called a patulous Eustachian tube. Patients with this rare condition are plagued by chronic ear infections. A much more common problem is a failure of the Eustachian tube to effectively regulate air pressure. Partial or complete blockage of the Eustachian tube can cause sensations of popping, clicking, and ear fullness and occasionally moderate to severe ear pain.
Causes and Risk factors
The Eustachian tube can be blocked, or obstructed, for a variety of reasons to include: a cold, sinus infections and allergies may also cause swelling of the tissue , an enlarged adenoid obstructing the opening of the Eustachian tube
As Eustachian tube function worsens, air pressure in the middle ear falls, and the ear feels full and sounds are perceived as muffled. Eventually, a vacuum is created which can then cause fluid to be drawn into the middle ear space (termed serous otitis media). If the fluid becomes infected, the common ear infection (suppurative otitis media) develops.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The simple act of swallowing activates the muscles in the back of the throat that help open the Eustachian tube. Chewing gum, drinking, or eating promotes swallowing. Yawning is even more effective. You can try to forcibly open the Eustachian tube by taking a deep breath and blowing while pinching your nostrils and closing your mouth. When you feel a pop you know you have succeeded. If problems persist despite trying to forcibly open the tubes you may need to seek medical attention. ...