Balloon Dilation for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD)
Have you ever felt a plugged feeling in your ears that sometimes results in pressure or pain? Many people experience ear pressure without knowing this could be due to eustachian tube dysfunction. In our Austin office, Dr. Slaughter is able to assess your symptoms and provide treatment if you are in fact experiencing eustachian tube dysfunction.
Where Are Eustachian Tubes?
The eustachian tube is the tube that connects the back of the nose to the middle ear. It serves to provide aeration and ventilation of the middle ear space.
“Dr Slaughter was very knowledgeable and extremely informative. First time I feel we have a plan to help my issues. 65 years old and haven’t had a Dr address all the issues so clearly .” – Cory B. – August 2019
What Is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD)?
When the eustachian tube isn’t working to adequately ventilate the middle ear space the middle ear will develop negative pressure. The basic idea is that the air in that space is being resorbed throughout the day and without new air coming up the eustachian tube there will be less air pressure in the middle ear than there is in the room. This means the eardrum will begin to suck into the middle ear space. When the eardrum sucks into the middle ear it dampens the mobility of the eardrum. This causes a plugged-up feeling with hearing loss. The patient will feel like they need to clear or pop open the ear. The negative pressure in the middle ear can also cause fluid to accumulate in the middle ear and the patient may feel the fluid moving around.
Blocked eustachian tube symptoms
The negative pressure and sucking in of the eardrum results in a feeling of the following:
- Ear pain
- Hearing loss
Other symptoms such as dizziness, off-balance sensation, and ringing in the ear are possible as well.
What Causes Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?
Eustachian tube dysfunction occurs when the tube gets inflamed and leads to a build-up of fluid. Common causes of ETD include the following:
- Sinus issues
- Deviated septum
- Nasal polyps
- Vasomotor rhinitis.
Past Eustachian Tube Treatment Options
The mainstay of therapy for years has been medical therapy such as allergy therapy. Unfortunately, it is not very successful in some patients. In those patients that failed medical therapy, all we have had to offer was placing tubes in the eardrum. There are many negatives of having a tube such as possible worsening of hearing, water precautions, and possibly a hole in the eardrum that could require surgery to repair.
balloon dilation For Eustachian tube Dysfunction
Now we can offer a new approach with balloon dilation in patients with persistent eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD). In this procedure, a small balloon is placed through the nose and into the eustachian tube without the need for any incisions. The balloon is then used to inflate and expand the eustachian tube for 2 minutes. The patient is in our office under IV sedation by a board-certified anesthesiologist. There is no pain or recollection during the procedure.
“Great customer service. The whole team was very helpful and very courteous. Dr. Slaughter made sure that the problem was fixed no matter what it took. I was very pleased with my experience.” – Donovan G. – July 2019
What can I expect during recovery?
There is essentially no recovery after the procedure. Allergy medications may be given to assist with the dilation. Patients do not require pain medication and they can return to normal activity the next day. Most patients will notice a significant improvement in their Eustachian tube dysfunction symptoms by 8 weeks.
Can My Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Come Back?
The studies to date have involved 60 patients and have demonstrated long-lasting results. The dilation can be repeated if needed in the future and it is important to also correct any underlying sinus or allergy issues.