Eustachian Tube Dysfunction occurs when the small tubes connecting the middle ear to the back of the nose and upper throat become blocked. Whilst this is something many people will experience in their lifetime following illnesses such as the common cold or a viral infection, certain individuals can be more prone to Eustachian Tube Dysfunction than others. Here are some of the common risk factors that could increase your chance of developing Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.
Risk factors for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
Eustachian tubes can often become blocked following a common cold or viral infection as a result of the build-up of mucus that commonly accompanies these illnesses. Whilst individuals of any age are susceptible to Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, it tends to be more prevalent in children. Why? Firstly, children often have weaker immune systems, and are therefore more prone to the viral infections that can trigger Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. And secondly, children generally have smaller and straighter Eustachian tubes than adults, meaning mucus is more likely to become trapped.
Individuals who smoke could be at a higher risk of developing Eustachian Tube Dysfunction as smoking can damage the delicate hairs that are responsible for moving mucus from the middle ear to the back of the nose. This damage can increase the possibility of mucus becoming trapped, leading to a build-up of mucus in the Eustachian tubes.
Since Eustachian Tube Dysfunction often results from trapped mucus, it follows that individuals who produce more mucus are generally more prone to the dysfunction. This is often the case for individuals who suffer from allergies as allergic reactions can often lead to the increased production of mucus.
Whilst Eustachian tubes commonly become blocked in individuals suffering from colds or sinus infections, changes in pressure resulting from high altitude activities can also lead to temporary dysfunction of the tubes. This occurs when altitude changes create a difference in pressure on the two sides of the eardrum, resulting in a sensation of fullness in the ears. Adventure-seekers who commonly take part in high-altitude activities such as hiking, skiing, snowboarding and scuba diving may therefore experience malfunction of the Eustachian tubes more frequently. The pressure changes during air travel can have the same effect.
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction treatment
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction will often clear up on its own or with treatment of the appropriate cause (i.e. antihistamines). However, in cases where Eustachian Tube Dysfunction recurs or remains after a prolonged period of time, you may need to seek the professional advice of a doctor or audiologist.
Whether you suffer from long-term hearing problems or need advice on protecting the long-term health of your ears, the experienced audiologists at The Art of Hearing clinics in Perth can provide the support and advice you need to make the most out of your hearing.