Middle Ear

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD)

Eustachian Tube:

The Eustachian Tube (ET) connects the back of the nose to the middle ear, it remains shut most of the time, only opening when swallowing, chewing and yawning happen.  Its function is to allow air to pass freely between the nose and middle ear cavities to maintain equal pressure.  Air is ‘used up’ continually by the middle ear (behind your eardrum) so the tube needs to open regularly to get a fresh supply of air.

Equal air pressure on each side of the eardrum is required for the best hearing and healthiest ears possible.

During infancy the ET is short and almost horizontal contributing to a high rate of childhood middle ear (ME) problems.

This is why babies should not drink bottles while lying down.

Nose blowing and ear popping maintains normal ET function – see our page on Middle Ear Trouble

Factors that cause Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD)

  • structural abnormalities relating to congenital malformations ie cleft palate
  • mucosal swelling caused by infection, allergy, and/or irritants
  • occlusion of the tube opening ie enlarged adenoids
  • Flying & Diving