- Pressure or fullness in the ears
- Muffled hearing
- Pain in the ears
- Ringing in the ears (known as tinnitus)
- Issues with balance
- A popping or clicking sensation in the ears
Children are often more at risk for developing Eustachian tube dysfunction because these tubes are shorter than they are in adults. This means that it’s easier for bacteria or fluid to get trapped within the middle ear. The good news is that these symptoms usually go away on their own and typically without treatment. There are things you can do such as chewing gum to help make the issue go away. If the problem persists then it’s time to see an otolaryngologist.
Once your ENT doctor has conducted a thorough examination of you or your child’s ears there are several approaches for alleviating the symptoms of eustachian tube dysfunction:
- If Eustachian tube dysfunction is due to an allergic reaction then your doctor may prescribe decongestants or antihistamines, which can reduce swelling and target the body’s response to the allergen.
- A minor procedure can be performed in which an otolaryngologist makes a small incision in the eardrum to remove the fluid that’s trapped in the middle ear. The eardrum will then heal in a couple of days.
- Sometimes implants are placed into the eardrums to help drain the fluid and to prevent fluid from building up. This is a recommended treatment for children who develop frequent ear infections due to eustachian tube dysfunction.
- A special balloon catheter procedure (similar to the one used to treat chronic sinusitis) can be directed into the nose and into the eustachian tube, where it opens up the tubes to help them drain properly.
You may want to speak with an ENT specialist about the benefits of ear tube surgery if your child has experienced at least three ear infections within the last six months. Also, if your child is dealing with muffled hearing or any hearing loss due to fluid build-up in the middle ear, then ear tubes may be beneficial. It's important to treat this quickly, as hearing problems can delay speech. Another situation that may warrant this surgery is if your child has a collapsing eardrum (known as atelectasis).
Your doctor can tell you whether or not your child could benefit from ear tube surgery. The purpose of the procedure is to place ear tubes into the ears to drain the fluid from the middle ear. This will serve two purposes:
- To prevent future ear infections (or, at the very least, make future infections milder)
- To improve hearing in your child
Ear tubes typically stay in the eardrums for about 18 months, depending on the type of tube that was placed; however, if the ear tubes do not fall out on their own within a couple of years then an ENT surgeon may need to surgically remove them.
If your child is dealing with severe and recurring ear infections, you must see an ENT doctor right away to find out what’s going on and to make sure that they are getting the treatment they need. Ear tube surgery isn’t for every child, so talk with your qualified medical provider before deciding whether this is the right decision.
- A continuing cough
- Hoarseness of voice
- Unexplained and significant weight loss
- Trouble swallowing easily (dysphagia)
- Pain in the jaw or ear
- White or red patches or sores in the mouth which do not heal
- Nose bleeds
- Swollen tissues anywhere in the head/neck area
- Numbness in the mouth and especially the tongue
- Continual nasal congestion
- Smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco
- Excessive alcohol consumption (more than two drinks daily if you a man and more than one a day for women)
- HPV exposure (Human Papilloma Virus) through oral sex
- A diet low in vegetables and fruit
- GERD, or acid reflux disease, in which stomach acid backs up into the esophagus
- Trouble with breathing and speaking
How to beat it
- Over-the-counter antihistamines have been known to cause blurry vision, constipation, drowsiness, and possibly weight gain.
- Nasal sprays can lead to constipation, nose bleeds, and an upset stomach.
- Oral decongestants have been linked to high blood pressure.
- The oral preparation stage is where the food or liquid is made ready for swallowing. In terms of food, this means chewing your food.
- Next is the oral stage where the tongue moves food or liquid to the back of the mouth. This starts the swallowing process.
- Then comes the pharyngeal stage, where the contents of the mouth go through the pharynx, throat, and esophagus.
- Last is the esophageal stage, where it transfers from the esophagus into your stomach.
- A constant feeling of something, either water or liquid, being stuck in the throat.
- Problems controlling saliva production, i.e. drooling.
- The sensation of a lump in the throat.
- Discomfort in the chest or throat.
- Coughing or choking when trying to swallow, drink, or eat. This is due to substances being pulled into the lungs.
- Difficulties sustaining a normal weight caused by swallowing interfering with nutritional intake.
- Tonsillitis or throat infections
- Scarring or damage to the esophagus
- Medication side effects
- Tumors in the lungs, esophagus, or throat
- Nerve diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
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