Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation (ETBD)

If you feel a popping sensation in your ear during a yawn or when you experience a change in altitude, the feeling you are experiencing originates in your Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube is a narrow passage leading from the pharynx to the middle ear and is responsible for equalizing pressure on each side of your eardrum. This function provides us with balance when going about our everyday lives.

These tubes also ventilate the middle ear, help drain secretions and protect the middle ear from disease. When they are not functioning the way they should, Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation, or ETBD, can provide relief. In this procedure, a small balloon is inserted through the nose, which clears a path for mucus and trapped air. Once the balloon is removed, the Eustachian tube is restored to normal function.

What are the Symptoms of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?

When your Eustachian tube is functioning properly, it will open intermittently to equalize the pressure in your ear canal and will drain secretions from your nasal passages and pharynx. When the Eustachian tube is malfunctioning, symptoms ranging from irritating to severe can develop and can greatly affect your quality of life. The most widely reported symptoms are a plugged feeling in the ears, popping or clicking sounds, pain or tenderness around the ear, partial hearing loss or muffled hearing and a loss of balance. Symptoms may escalate if you experience a change in altitude. If these symptoms persist for more than a week, a thorough examination is recommended to diagnose the issue.

Causes of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

The most common cause of Eustachian tube dysfunction is inflammation of the tube, which can lead to a buildup of mucus and fluid. This inflammation is commonly caused by a sinus infection, a cold, the flu or seasonal allergies. Children are at the greatest risk for Eustachian tube dysfunction since their tubes are shorter and straighter, making it easier for fluid or mucus to become trapped. Children can develop a condition called glue ear, in which the middle ear fills with a glue-like liquid that cannot drain on its own. Other risk factors include obesity, which can cause fatty deposits around the tubes, and smoking, which damages the cilia that remove mucus from the middle ear.

Risks of Untreated Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Fortunately, many Eustachian tube dysfunction cases resolve on their own through treatment with over-the-counter or prescription medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and steroid nasal sprays. For those who suffer from a chronic condition, the prognosis can be different. If left untreated, this dysfunction can lead to problems with balance, increasing your risk of falls. It can also lead to upper respiratory tract infections or chronic middle ear infections that could cause permanent hearing loss.

Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation Frequently Asked Questions

How successful is Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation?
This procedure is shown to be 99.7% effective in peer-reviewed studies.

Is the procedure painful?
The procedure is not painful. Occasionally, mild discomfort is reported, but most patients experience no discomfort during the procedure.

How long does the procedure take?
The balloon, once inserted into the opening of the Eustachian tube, is inflated for a few minutes, then removed. You will be able to return home after one or two hours. It is recommended to rest the day after the procedure.

What are the risks?
The risk factors associated with this procedure are mild and may include minor nasal bleeding.

If you are suffering from inner ear problems, persistent sinus blockages or trouble with your balance, you may benefit from a Eustachian tube balloon dilation (ETBD) procedure from Dr. Levitin. Contact City Sinus Care in NYC today to schedule a consultation to discuss treatment options.