The Eustachian tube (ET) is the narrow tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. This tube is what you “pop” when you descend on an airplane or scuba dive by yawning, swallowing, or blowing after pinching your nose. The ET drains the ear and relieves ear pressure that can build up. If this tube does not open up properly, it can lead to Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD). ETD can cause:
- fullness in the ear
- ear “popping”
- hearing loss (“muffled” ear)
- fluid behind the ear drum
- tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- ear infections
- unsteadiness or dizziness
Long term eustachian tube dysfunction can lead to more severe damage to the middle ear or hearing loss that may require surgery.
The lining of the ET is lined with the same lining found in the nose; therefore, whenever your nose swells (allergies, sinus, cold, etc.), the ET can swell which may lead to ETD.