Finally, some good news for our many patients who have chronic eustachian tube dysfunction. The eustachian tube is a structure which connects the space behind the eardrum to the back of the nose called the nasopharynx. The eustachian tube is normally closed, but is actively opened by the certain muscles used during swallowing, yawning, and even chewing gum! This is the pop you feel when on an airplane or high elevation. The purpose of the eustachian tube is to help regulate the internal air pressure of the middle ear. When the eustachian tube doesn’t function well the ear can feel clogged or stuffed up and sometimes collects fluids which won’t clear. The problem can be successfully corrected using Balloon Dilation of the Eustachian Tube, which uses the same type of instrument used with balloon sinuplasty to safely dilate the eustachian tube entirely through the nose.
What is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD)?
ETD happens when the Eustachian tube, an area extending from the middle of the ear to the nasopharynx, cannot open like it should. Patients with ETD often feel like their ears are perpetually clogged, deal with earaches, or experience impaired hearing. Current treatment options for ETD include medication and ear tubes, which may relieve symptoms, however more invasive surgery may be necessary to address severe complications. The Wall Street Journal article, “Clearing the Air in the Ear” discusses Balloon Dilation of the Eustachian Tube and explores ways it’s been used to help people with perpetually ” clogged” ears.
What is Balloon Dilation of the Eustachian Tube?
The physicians at Lexington ENT at Totum Health begin by inserting a tiny balloon is inserted into the Eustachian tube. The balloon is next inflated to physically open the Eustachian tube, deflated and then removed. Physicians who have used the Balloon Dilation of the Eustachian Tube technique in adults and children sufferers of eustachian tube dysfunction reported that the procedure is safe and causes a short-term and, perhaps, a long-term resolution of symptoms.
Although this is an off label use of the balloon device, the 2 year follow up remains excellent in patients who participated in the studies (as just reported March 31,2014, at this year’s conference at Harvard’s Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital). If you or a loved one suffer from chronic eustachian tube dysfunction please call our patient engagement professionals today to learn about how this exciting technique works, and whether this may be an appropriate procedure for you when all else has failed.