Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) is a frequent problem for individuals. The dysfunction occurs in the Eustachian tubes that run from your ear to your throat when they become blocked with fluid. Their purpose is to make sure your ear does not back up with fluid or pressure and they are closed unless you are yawning, sneeze or swallow.
If you have recently suffered a cold, flu, or sinus infection, your Eustachian tube can build-up with fluid. If you have allergy problems, this can also increase the likelihood of a persistent or frequent build up in the ears. There are also other individuals who are more prone to having ETD.
- Individuals who are obese are more prone. Obesity causes fatty deposits around the ears that creates the blockage.
- Children are more prone. Little ones have shorter and more straight Eustachian tubes which increase the likelihood of bacteria and fluid to get into the tube and become trapped.
- If you smoke. Smoking damages the tiny hairs that sweep mucus away.
The symptoms of ETD can vary from person to person; however, here is a list of the signs to look for if you suspect you have ETD.
- Ringing in one or both ears.
- Sounds are muffled.
- Clicking and popping in the ears.
- Your ears feel full or plugged.
- You are having trouble keeping your balance.
ETD usually resolves on its own, especially if it results from the flu, a cold or sinus infection. Simple things such as yawning or chewing gum can help pop your ears and relieve the fluid. However, if you have allergies and it is constant, there are a few things you can do from home.
- Invest in a neti-pot
- Saline spray is an effective way to clean out the nasal area.
- A nose spray can also reduce nasal inflammation and allow fluid to move more freely.
- Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Sudafed or Claritin.
The way you can reduce the build-up of fluid in your ears is through prevention.
- Don’t smoke.
- If you are overweight, speak to your doctor about a weight loss plan.
- Use a nose-spray, especially before you go outside if you have allergies.
If you have a constant problem with fluid, speak with your doctor about a treatment plan such as prescription nose sprays or medication that will reduce inflammation. If you suspect your infant has a fluid build-up, feed your child or offer a pacifier to loosen up the fluid. If your baby is tugging at his or her ears, crying more than usual, or waking in the night fussy or crying, it may be an ear infection.
Schedule an Appointment.
If you have tried everything from home and you still have problems with your ears, make an appointment with your doctor to see if you have a fluid build-up or if it is caused by something else. If you have ringing in your ear from tinnitus, you may need to see an audiologist. Remember prevention is best, but if you are still suffering from a build-up of fluid, there are treatment options your doctor can discuss with you.