Mysterious noises in your ear. Feelings of pressure and fullness. Discomfort. These may all be signs of Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD).
The Eustachian tube is a slender tube that connects the middle ear with the pharynx, or the opening in the back of your nose and mouth. For such a small structure, the tube is very important for several reasons. It drains fluid from the middle ear so that infections don’t simmer. It equalizes air flow in the ear.
It also can help prevent bacteria from entering the ear by way of a small valve in the pharynx.
“We’ve all experienced sensations of ETD at one time or another,” says Wayne Shaia, MD, an otologist/neurotologist at Richmond’s Balance and Ear Center. “Having a cold or sinus infection can induce the symptoms. Having water in your ear after swimming or taking off and landing in an airplane can cause the feelings of fullness, muffled sounds and pain.”
“Up until now, the only treatments were allergy medications, antibiotics or ear tubes, but a simple – yet novel – new procedure has just been approved by the FDA. We’re very excited about its promise and that we were able to introduce it in Richmond.”
Dr. Shaia is the first physician in the area to use the new technique, the Aera Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilatation System.