What is Eustachian Tube Dilation?
The Eustachian tube is a narrow passageway that connects the nasopharynx, or back of the nose, to the ear. It helps to relieve internal ear pressure. You are typically aware of your Eustachian tube when flying in an airplane, scuba diving, or have fluid trapped in your middle ear space from a cold. The accompanying sensation of fullness and decreased hearing can be very uncomfortable. While this tube typically remains closed, it opens with yawning, chewing, swallowing, or when you attempt to “pop” your ears. For some, the tubes can become or remain blocked, also known as Eustachian tube dysfunction.
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Symptoms
- “blocked” ears
- changes in hearing/Tinnitus
- ears “popping”
- tickling sensation/itchy feeling in the ears
- ear pain
While Eustachian tube dysfunction can often be treated with nasal sprays, allergy treatment, or spontaneously improves with time, for some, it is a persistent problem. For those individuals, Eustachian tube dilation can help alleviate the annoying symptoms of ear fullness, decreased hearing, associated ringing in the ears, and possible ear pain. This minimally invasive, FDA-approved procedure is done by a skilled Otolaryngology surgeon. While the patient is under general anesthesia, the doctor passes an endoscope through your nose and then inserts a small catheter (balloon) into the Eustachian tube. The balloon will then be inflated for a couple of minutes to widen the Eustachian tube.
Eustachian Tube Balloon Frequently Asked Questions
- Does Eustachian tube balloon dilation work? Clinical studies of the AERA Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation have shown excellent results. A success rate of 99.7 was achieved in Eustachian tube dilations, and patients experienced a greater rate of eardrum normalization compared to patients treated with medication alone. Greater patient quality of life was also achieved. There were zero adverse events or complications reported. For additional information, download the AERA fact sheet
- Are there any risks associated with Eustachian tube balloon dilation? Like all procedures, there are potential risks including, bleeding, infection, and long-term trauma to the Eustachian tube, but these are rare. Your physician can discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure in detail.
- Will I have pain after Eustachian tube balloon dilation? Recovery is minimal, with little postoperative discomfort and patients do not require prescription pain medication. Most individuals may resume normal activities within 24hrs after the procedure.
If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the above Eustachian Tube Dysfunction symptoms, or any other hearing-related issues, schedule an appointment with us today! These health tips are not a substitute for speaking to a qualified healthcare provider, talk to your primary care physician or Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist today.