Eustachian Tube Problems - Treatments

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How is Eustachian tube blockage treated?

Several maneuvers may be done to improve Eustachian tube function and thus aid in equalization of air pressure.

  • The simple act of swallowing activates the muscles in the back of the throat that help open the Eustachian tube. Any activity that promotes swallowing can help open the Eustachian tube, for example, chewing gum, drinking, or eating.
  • Yawning is even more effective because it is a stronger muscle activator.
  • If the ears still feel full, the person can try to forcibly open the Eustachian tube by taking a deep breath and blowing while pinching your nostrils and closing the mouth. When a "pop" is felt, you know you have succeeded. If problems persist despite trying to forcibly open the tubes you may need to seek medical attention. If you feel dizzy performing this maneuver, then stop and discuss this with your doctor.
  • If you have a cold, sinus infection, ear infection, or suffering from allergies, it may be advisable to postpone air travel.
  • Similarly, individuals with Eustachian tube problems may find such sports as scuba diving painful, and in some situations quite dangerous.
  • Babies traveling on airplanes cannot intentionally pop their ears, but may do so if they are sucking on a bottle or pacifier. Crying, similar in function to yawning, will also enable equalization of air pressure.

Many individuals who travel with Eustachian tube problems use a decongestant pill or nasal spray an hour prior to takeoff, and if necessary, prior to descent. The decongestant acts to shrink the membranes lining the nose and throat, allowing the ears to equalize more easily. Similarly, patients experiencing chronic daily problems with Eustachian tube dysfunction can benefit by aggressive control of allergies (with antihistamines, decongestants, and prescription nasal sprays). Allergy evaluation can be helpful. In severe situations, a "pressure equalization tube" (PET) can be surgically placed in the eardrum, replacing the role of a functioning Eustachian tube, and thus guaranteeing equalization of middle ear pressure.

Return to Eustachian Tube Problems (Problems Clearing Your Ears)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Annie, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 08

I have suffered eustachian tube problems for thirty three years. In 1994 I suffered bacterial meningitis through an ear infection due to the eustachian being blocked and subsequently infected with bacteria. My ears are blocked most days and using steroid nasal sprays don't seem to help. I see my ENT specialist twice a year and I now think it's time I had the tubes inserted. I never get earache, however, I do suffer allergies. This is an extremely miserable problem. I purchased a machine called the EarPopper and it doesn't work. I've simply tried everything possible.

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Comment from: eager1, 65-74 Female Published: March 15

I was bitten by a black widow spider. I had no access to medical help. When a red line started to go up my arm I used Epsom salt, made a paste, applied it, and secured a cover on my arm for about a week and a half. It finally started to clear up, but for about a month I was very disoriented, tired and restless. It left a pit type scar. Hope it never happens again. I will hesitate to seek care.

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