What are the causes of ear congestion and pain?
The Eustachian tube goes from the middle of each ear to the back of the throat and is supposed to drain fluid from the ear. When you have a cold, sinus problems or ear infection or allergies, the tube can swell and become blocked causing fluid to build up behind your eardrum, resulting in pressure, feeling of congestion and pain, and even hearing loss, tinnitus or dizziness. Common causes of eustachian tube dysfunction are:
- Common Cold. A viral infection of the nose is the most common cause. The nasal congestion also blocks the ear tube (eustachian tube). The ear tube normally keeps air in the middle ear.
- Ear Infection. Middle ear pus can also cause muffled hearing on that side. This commonly happens with an ear infection.
- Sinusitis. Inflammation of the sinuses can cause eustachian tube congestion or blockage.
- Middle Ear Fluid. Fluid may remain in the middle ear after the infection is cleared up. It can last for months. The main symptoms are popping and crackling noises in the ear.
- Allergic Rhinitis. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollens. It causes nasal congestion, clear drainage and sneezing. It also can block the ear tube and back up secretions in the ear.
- TMJ-temporal mandibular joint dysfunction
- Airplane changes in pressure.
What treatment options does AAENT offer for recurrent Eustachian Tube Dysfunction or chronic ear congestion?
Recurrent eustachian tube dysfunction and chronic ear infections may require the surgical placement of tubes in the eardrum, which allows fluid to drain and pressure to equalize in the middle ear.
Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation
Drs. Kleiman, Meek and Wachal are highly skilled in this new minimally invasive technique that can be performed in the office. They use a catheter to insert a small balloon through the patient’s nose and into the Eustachian tube. Once inflated, the balloon opens up a pathway for mucus to flow through the Eustachian tube, which may help restore proper function. After the Eustachian tube is dilated, the balloon is deflated and the catheter is removed. This has been a safe, highly effective treatment of chronic ear congestion and chronic ear infections in select children and adults, and avoids the risks of anaesthesia and surgical placement of tubes. It may not be appropriate for all patients. All patients should be carefully evaluated to determine if they are a candidate for this procedure.