The eustachian tube is the main connection between the back of the throat and the middle of the ear. Normally, the tube is filled with air and opens when yawning or chewing. “This allows you to equalize pressure” on either side of the eardrum, explained David Kaylie, MD, a Duke otolaryngologist. When the tube is blocked from a cold or sinus, nose or ear infection, air can no longer pass through. Stuffy ears and noses, hearing loss, ear pain, and pressure, as well as ringing in the ears (tinnitus) can result.
Blocked eustachian tubes can be relieved by nasal sprays and antihistamine tablets, which reduce inflammation and congestion. Recurrent Eustachian tube dysfunction requires the surgical placement of tubes in the eardrum, which allows pressure to equalize in the middle ear. Now that the FDA has approved the Aera system, children, and adults with chronic Eustachian tube dysfunction can opt for a simple, 10-minute procedure instead, Kaylie said.
“This new device has been shown to return the middle ear to normal and greatly eliminate middle ear pressure in properly selected patients,” he said. Studies of the device showed “long-term normal eustachian function after the procedure.”