Imagine taking in the sights and sounds of a crisp fall day and having it ruined by ringing in your ears or muffled hearing. For many people, those symptoms along with ear pain are a common occurrence. While many treatment options are available, one to consider might just fill you with relief without filling up your day: eustachian tube balloon dilation.
Your middle ear is connected to the back of your nose internally through the eustachian tube, a narrow passage that is typically closed during normal activity. When you yawn, eat, or swallow, this tube opens briefly to equalize pressure on either side of the ear drums. This is an important feature in that it prevents air and secretions from building up in your ear. When the tube is unable to open properly or relieve pressure (eustachian tube dysfunction, or ETD), it could create pain, fullness, tinnitus, and muffled hearing.
To provide relief for ETD, a procedure called eustachian tube balloon dilation can be administered to patients. This is a minimally invasive treatment performed by a surgeon to open up the eustachian tube and allow fluid and air to flow out again. Dr. Roy Lewis, a CEENTA otolaryngologist from our Mooresville office, is a strong advocate for eustachian tube balloon dilation. “This is an awesome, straightforward procedure that can improve the full feeling in your ears. Balloon dilation can improve ear pressure without multiple sets of PE tubes.”
Prior to the procedure, the patient is asked to eat breakfast to avoid lightheadedness during the surgery. They will also be asked questions related to their current health, such as smoking history, previous use of blood thinners, or any lingering chest colds, that could be a limiting factor in the treatment. Local anesthesia in the form of a gel is placed in the nose.
During the dilation, the opening of the eustachian tube in the back of the nose is examined with an endoscope. Next, a small injection is placed close to the eustachian tube with a small balloon inserted and inflated in the tube for approximately two minutes. After the two minutes have passed, the balloon is deflated and removed through the nose. A similar procedure is done on the other side.
Following the treatment, the otolaryngologist may recommend taking it easy as far as strenuous activity for the day with normal activity resuming after that. They may also suggest that the patient stop taking blood thinners for a set amount of time depending on its usage.
Eustachian tube balloon dilation is a quick outpatient procedure that involves no incisions or removals. It is a safe treatment option with minimal bleeding and mild pain during the inflation that can be performed in less than an hour. In fact, many of CEENTA’s ENT specialists are clinically-trained to provide this procedure and have provided research on the technique.
If you suffer from chronic ear pain and muffled hearing, it might be time to get your eustachian tubes examined. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Roy Lewis at our Mooresville office today to see if eustachian tube surgery is right for you.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our ENT doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.
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