Understanding Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

The Eustachian tube is found between the middle ear and the back of your nose. Adults have approximately three or four centimeters of tubing connecting the two. For optimal hearing the air pressure in each of your ears should be relatively equal. This keeps the balance of your inner ear and maintains steady/equal pressure for the eardrums to vibrate through the ranges unobtrusively. If either drum or adjacent areas to the Eustachian tube fill with mucus, it could cause distortions in hearing, ringing, and pressure in the ears which can lead to pain.

The Eustachian tube functions by opening air flow into the middle ear. This air helps to expel the mucus keeping everything clear and everything vibrating in full range. It does this when we apply mechanical movements that force it open and closed. Things like yawning, swallowing, or chewing. Try it now, open your mouth wide like your yawning, you can feel the pressure as the tube opens just below your ears.Eustachian Tube

If the Eustachian tube doesn’t open properly or is blocked closed, it doesn’t clear the mucus. This causes pressure against the outer side of the eardrums and the pressure in the inner ear to differ. This creates a pressure that can be uncomfortable and distorts your hearing substantially. The pressure can cause ringing  (tinnitus), dizziness, and pain. The imbalance tenses up the eardrums so they don’t vibrate effectively. Hearing becomes impaired as a result. You could feel the effects in one ear or both.

There Are Several Causes for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
Many of the causes of Eustachian dysfunction are diseases. These can cause dysfunction for a few hours or weeks, and even permanent damage in some cases. The cause will often give you a clue into the duration. Some things that trigger ETD are:Eustachian Tube

Allergies: Allergies can cause mucus build up. This causes inflammation around and within the Eustachian tube. This includes perennial rhinitis, hay fever, or anything else that tends to also trigger the nose and congestion in the head.

Glue Ear:  This term was coined around how the fluid that has filed in the middle ear is of a glue like consistency. This blocks the flow of fluids and can cause pressure, ringing, and pain.

Colds: Any infection to the throat, ears, nose and/or sinuses can inflame the condition due to how it causes mucus buildup. Thick mucus evolved from the infections can block your Eustachian tube. It can also enflame it causing swelling and following pressure. If this is the case treat the cold or infections first and the rest, including your hearing, should return to normal as the cold/infection heals.


When you feel a pressure in your ears such as when driving through mountains changing elevations your Eustachian tubes tend to close due to the air pressure fluctuations. This is why you hold your nose and blow (wEustachian Tubeith your mouth closed) to “pop” your ears. Your actually not popping your ears but rather opening the closed/blocked tubes. When they open the pressure can cause them to overextend causing a temporary pain in the deep ear cannal (middle ear).

The solution is to get those tubes open once again. When you feel this issue forming don’t ignore it- it won’t just go away, at least not right away and could get worse. Open your Eustachian tubes often using a few easy to apply techniques (that you can feel even)

1. Swallow hard

2. Yawn (false or real)

3. Valsalva movement (holding nose and blowing to pop ears/Eustachian tube open)

To help prevent the problem with The Eustachian tube do the Valsalva movement a few times a day, especially if you feel pressure building up in your ears. When you “blow them out” hold it for a few seconds each time then swallow hard. This should help bring homeostasis back to your inner ear.

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