The Eustachian tube (ET) is a small tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. You can feel it “popping” when you yawn, swallow, or blow while pinching your nose. This tube helps to drain the ear and relieve pressure. However, if the tube doesn’t open correctly, it can cause Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD).
Symptoms of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction:
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
- Ear “popping” sensations
- Hearing loss or muffled sounds
- A build-up of fluid behind the eardrum
- Persistent ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Increased risk of ear infections
- Episodes of unsteadiness or dizziness
What is Eustachian Tube Dilation (ETD)?
Until recently, the only way to relieve pressure in the ears was nasal sprays, antibiotics (if infection), decongestants, or the more invasive technique of inserting ear tubes into the eardrum to aerate through the ear canal (this is a temporary measure as the tubes will eventually fall out).
Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation is a minimally invasive procedure that can restore Eustachian tube function and relieve symptoms. Whether it’s in the operating room or the office, this procedure can be performed under local anesthesia.
How does ETD correct Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?
With Eustachian tube balloon dilation, we can effectively treat Eustachian dysfunction by inserting and inflating a balloon to open and enlarge the tube. First, we numb the back of the nose where the Eustachian tube is located. Then, we gently insert the balloon into the tube and carefully inflate it to the appropriate pressure. After two minutes, we deflate and remove the balloon.
In just minutes, this procedure significantly improves the functioning of the Eustachian tube. While the effects are not permanent, studies have shown consistent improvement for one year or more.
Who is a candidate for Eustachian Balloon Dilation?
Eustachian Balloon dilation is recommended for individuals with persistent Eustachian tube dysfunction, ear pressure, and conductive hearing loss that has not responded to medical treatments.
Other candidates for this procedure may include those with abnormal Eustachian tube anatomy or with vocal fold paralysis and people who suffer from persistent negative pressure in the middle ear. This procedure is considered a safe and effective way to treat Eustachian Tube dysfunction and its associated symptoms.