Eustachian tubes are small tubes that run between your middle ears and the upper throat. They are responsible for equalizing ear pressure and draining fluid from the middle ear, the part of the ear behind the eardrum. The eustachian tubes are usually closed except for when you chew, swallow, or yawn. These passageways are small in size and can get plugged for a variety of reasons. Blocked eustachian tubes can cause pain, hearing difficulties, and a feeling of fullness in the ears. Such a phenomenon is referred to as eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD).
ETD is a relatively common condition. Depending on the cause, it may resolve on its own or through simple at-home treatment measures. Severe or recurring cases may require a visit to the doctor.
“Unblocking the ear relies on unblocking the sinuses”
– Fullness in the ears
– Feeling like your ears are “plugged”
– Changes to your hearing
– Ringing in the ear, also known as tinnitus
– Clicking or popping sounds
– Ticklish feelings in the ears
– Pain, without discharge
When to see a doctor
– Symptoms are severe or last more than two weeks
– Children, as they have a higher risk of getting ear infections.
– Unilateral sudden complete loss of hearing
– More widespread headache, fever or systemic symptoms
How to treat
– Using a saline nasal spray to help clean out passageways
– Inhaling steam with menthol
– Decompress with otovent – available to buy from your pharmacy
– Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine or cetirizine can be bought from your pharmacy if you have allergy symptoms causing ear problems
– Pain relievers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen (with food) can alleviate pain in your ears
– Breathing out with your nostrils and mouth closed