What is ETD?

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD) Symptoms

Have you dealt with muffled hearing, plugged ears, a popping sensation, or pain in your ears? You may have been suffering from eustachian tube dysfunction. ETD is common in both children and adults. It usually resolves itself but when it doesn’t, it can take away the joys of life.

The eustachian tube is a small tube that connects your middle ear and throat. It has many important daily functions that we don’t notice until the eustachian tube stops working. It controls air pressure behind your eardrum, controls sound clarity, and prevents eardrum damage. The Eustachian tubes also help to drain the ear and prevent infections. In children, the eustachian tubes are shorter and flatter which can lead to chronic ear infections that your ENT will want to address.

Eustachian tube dysfunction is when one or both of the eustachian tubes becomes plugged, leading to symptoms like:

  • “Plugged” ears
  • Sounds becoming muffled
  • Popping, clicking, or tickling feeling
  • Ear pain
  • Imbalance
  • Ear ringing
eustachian tube dysfunction symptoms

These symptoms may occur in some people more often. Symptoms may be more frequent or intense in people who enjoy hobbies or work that takes them underwater or to high altitudes. Riding in an elevator, driving through mountains, or air travel may also cause symptoms to increase.

Fortunately, natural methods can help most of the time. Common natural methods include:

  • Swallowing - helps to promote muscle movement that opens the tube
  • Yawning - can help regulate air pressure
  • Chewing gum - chewing helps to open the passage
  • Pressurized breathing - Pinching your nose, closing your mouth, and “blowing” air to release pressure.

If you are suffering from these symptoms and none of the natural methods are working, then you may be suffering from chronic eustachian tube dysfunction. Chronic eustachian tube dysfunction can take away the joys of life, limit working ability, and cause you to stop working on the hobbies you love. Schedule an appointment with Hillcrest ENT and get a treatment plan that will work for you.

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What is the cause of my ETD?

This type of rhinitis can last all year long. It is typically caused by pet hair, upholstery, mold, and houseplants.

A lining of mucus coats the eustachian tubes to help the body filter out foreign matter. When the lining becomes swollen, it can block the tubes and prevent fluid and airflow. This can lead to hearing loss, balance problems, pain, and discomfort.

Several things can lead to chronic eustachian tube dysfunction. Including:

  • Allergies - allergies can cause inflammation which may prevent air and mucus from flowing naturally
  • Sinus infection - sinus cavities play an important role in airflow and pressure equalization. When they become infected, these processes may suffer.
  • Cold and flu - having a cold or flu can cause inflammation which may also hinder tube function

Children are at a higher risk than adults because of the shape and size of their tubes. Other factors that may put adults at a higher risk include:


Cigarettes and other forms of smoking can cause damage to the cilia that line the eustachian tube wall. These cilia help to move the mucus out of the ear and when they are damaged, they can’t move the mucus out as effectively. This leads to mucus build up and infection.


Increased body fat may lead to fat deposits around the tubes. This can squeeze or pinch the tubes and cause them not to drain.

Physical Abnormality

Physical causes of eustachian tube dysfunction are uncommon but not unheard of. A deviated septum or another abnormality can impact the functions of the eustachian tubes.

Is there eustachian tube dysfunction treatment?

The good news is that there are treatments available for eustachian tube dysfunction and the better news is that you have options. You don’t have to continue living with the painful symptoms of ETD because there are treatment options that are safe, effective, and minimally invasive. Our team at Hillcrest ENT can develop a treatment plan that is unique to you so you can get your life back. Treatments include:

Minimally invasive procedures: Eustachian Tube Dilation

When treating the underlying causes is not enough, eustachian tube dilation may be your best option. Eustachian tube dilation is simple, minimally invasive, and can be done in the office. It is similar to other balloon dilation procedures and it is very effective. A small balloon is inserted into the eustachian tube and then inflated to open the blockage. You will be able to return to your normal life and feel the relief almost immediately.

Will I need ETD surgery?

Normally, ETD can be treated without surgery but in some cases surgery is the appropriate solution. ETD surgery may include puncturing the eardrum with tiny temporary holes or inserting temporary tubes to drain excess fluid. ETD surgery is typically safe and effective.

Is your Eustachian Tube Dysfunction ruining your life?

If you are not able to live the life you want because of your chronic eustachian tube dysfunction you should schedule an appointment with Hillcrest ENT today. Stop letting the constant symptoms of ETD control you. Let us develop a treatment plan for you so that you can take your life back.

I Am Tired of My Chronic ETD: Schedule Now