Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

(ETD; Barotitis Media; Barotrauma; Ear Popping; Pressure-related Ear Pain)


The eustachian tube is a small canal that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose and upper throat. Its purpose is to equalize the air pressure in the middle ear with the pressure outside it.
Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) occurs when the tube fails to open during swallowing or yawning. This results in a difference between the air pressure inside and outside the middle ear.
Eustachian Tube
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ETD is caused by poor function or blockage of the eustachian tube, including:

Risk Factors

This condition is more common in children.
Factors that may increase your chance of getting ETD include:


Symptoms can include:


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your ears will be examined. If your case is severe, you may need to see an otolaryngologist, a doctor who specializes in ear disorders.
You may have tests done on your ears. This may include:


The following measures may improve clogging, discomfort, or pain:
If the symptoms do not go away within a few hours or are severe, your doctor may advise the following medications:
In rare cases, a myringotomy may be necessary. An incision will be made in the eardrum to allow the pressure to equalize and the fluid to drain.


To help reduce your chances of getting ETD, take the following steps:


American Hearing Research Foundation

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


Canadian Academy of Audiology

The Canadian Hearing Society


Barotrauma. American Hearing Research Foundation website. Available at: Updated October 2012. Accessed September 17, 2015.

Eustachian tube dysfunction. McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign website. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2015.

Eustachian tube dysfunction. Patient UK website. Available at: Updated February 24, 2015. Accessed September 17, 2015.

General information about nasopharyngeal cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Updated August 12, 2015. Accessed September 17, 2015.

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