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Dysfunction of Eustachian Tube

What is the function of the Eustachian tube?

The Eustachian tube, also known as the auditory tube, is a small canal that measures around 3-4 cm in length. It connects the middle ear to the nasopharynx, the upper part of the throat located behind the nasal cavity. It has a crucial role in regulating the pressure within the middle ear and keeping it equal to the external pressure. This function is carried out through the natural opening and closing movements of the tube, which are stimulated by various activities like swallow or yawning.

What is Eustachian tube dysfunction?

Patulous Eustachian tube dysfunction is a clinical condition that refers to an abnormal and chronic disruption of the normal opening and closing mechanism of the Eustachian tube, resulting in persistent tubal opening. This condition is rare and is more commonly observed in women, with only one ear typically affected. People with this condition experience symptoms such as, the sensation of having a plugged ear, autophonia (hearing one's own voice louder than usual) and intermittent hearing loss.

What causes Eustachian tube dysfunction?

Eustachian tube dysfunction can results from various pathological situations, including:

  • Diseases of the muscle and adipose tissue, usually due to sudden and excessive weight loss.
  • Use of diuretics that may lead to the alteration of the interstitial tissue.
  • Radiotherapeutic action that affects the tubal mucosa.
  • Chronic inflammatory processes of the nose, throat and Eustachian tube.
  • Predisposition to nerve and vascular dysfunction.


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Eustachian tube dysfunction diagnosis

Diagnosing Eustachian tube dysfunction can be challenging due to the lack of a specific diagnostic test and its overlapping symptoms with earache and tinnitus. An otoscopy typically does not reveal any changes in the tympanic membrane.

However, the following examinations may aid in the diagnosis of Eustachian tube dysfunction:

An otomicroscopy may show small movements of the tympanic membrane that are synchronous with respiratory movements;

A tonal audiometric examination may reveal a mild hearing loss limited to low frequencies;

A tympanometry test, which measures the compliance of the middle ear, may show an increased compliance (high peak) and a series of spikes that represent respiratory movements.

Eustachian tube dysfunction treatment

There are three different approaches for treating tuba beante:

  1. Medical approach: This aims to eliminate the underlying cause, such as chronic otitis or thinning. Various medications may be prescribed to treat the condition.
  2. Surgical approach: This aims to remove the inflammatory foci, such as adenoids or tonsils.
  3. Rehabilitation approach: This is carried out through appropriate stimulation exercises of the palate, tongue, and Eustachian tube.

A holistic approach may involve a Eustachian Tube Massage (ETM), which helps reduce pressure and promote the release of fluid from the tube, alleviating congestion and discomfort. If symptoms persist, it is best to consult a doctor.

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