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Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation

Eustachian tube dysfunction can cause painful ear infections and other symptoms, and may lead to permanent ear damage and hearing loss. Board-Certified Otolaryngologist (ENT) Dr. Shawn Allen performs in-office Eustachian tube balloon dilation, helping his patients from Houston, The Woodlands, and nearby Texas communities find relief.

man holding ear due to discomfort

What are the Eustachian Tubes?

The Eustachian tube is a passageway that links the middle ears to the back of the nose and throat. The Eustachian tubes open when a person chews, swallows, or yawns, performing a number of essential functions:

  • Draining any trapped fluid from the middle ear
  • Ventilation of the middle ear
  • Pressure equalization
  • Protection against middle ear Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Eustachian Tubes Cleveland Clinic Go to Source disease

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) is a result of clogging of the Eustachian tube, which prevents it from opening. Often, this is a result of inflammation caused by a sinus infection or allergies that leads to an accumulation of mucus. This is a common cause of middle ear infections (otitis media), and may produce symptoms such as:

  • Ear pain
  • Middle ear pressure
  • The sensation of blocked ears
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Popping or clicking
  • Distorted hearing and muffled sounds
  • Problems with balance

Common types of Eustachian tube dysfunction include:

Patulous Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

This disorder affects the valve of the Eustachian tube, causing it to remain open. Common Patulous Eustachian tube dysfunction may be caused by allergies, weight loss, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or neuromuscular conditions. Symptoms often include the sensation that the ears are full and patients hearing their own voices or bodily functions very loudly.

Obstructive Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Obstructive Eustachian tube dysfunction occurs when the Eustachian tube valve does not open as it should. This can cause muffled hearing, a sensation of fullness in the ears, and ear pain or pressure.

Baro-Challenge-Induced Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Baro-Challenge-Induced Eustachian tube dysfunction causes what many patients experience as ear popping during an airplane flight, a drive to high elevation, or SCUBA Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Johns Hopkins Medicine Go to Source diving.

In most cases, Eustachian tube dysfunction can be effectively treated with occasional decongestants, antihistamines, and/or steroid nasal sprays. When symptoms persist despite these treatment options or in cases of chronic Eustachian tube dysfunction, balloon dilation of the eustachian tubes may be necessary.

Asian woman holding her ear in discomfort

Eustachian Tube Dilation

Eustachian tube dysfunction is very common in children, and it also affects up to 11 million adults in the United States every year. Untreated Eustachian tube dysfunction can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life and lead to permanent ear damage, potentially resulting in hearing loss or eardrum Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Prevalence of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction in Adults in the United States Shan A, Ward BK, Goman AM, Betz JF, Reed NS, Poe DS, Nieman CL Go to Source retraction.

In the past, ETD was treated with invasive procedures such as pressure equalization tube placement (PETs). Now, Dr. Allen is able to treat Eustachian tube dysfunction with in-office balloon dilation of the Eustachian tube, which is a safe, simple, and rapid procedure that leads to symptom improvement in the majority of patients.

Preparing for Eustachian Balloon Tube Dilation

If you are experiencing ear pain or other symptoms of Eustachian tube dysfunction, the first step in treating the issue is to attend a consultation with Dr. Shawn Allen. During this appointment, Dr. Allen will perform an examination of your ears and determine whether Eustachian tube balloon dilation is the proper method of treatment.

The Eustachian Tube Dilation Procedure

Eustachian tube balloon dilation is performed under general anesthesia. To begin the procedure, Dr. Allen will pass an endoscope through the nasal cavity to visualize the Eustachian tube opening. A catheter will be inserted, through which a small balloon will be introduced into the blocked eustachian tube. Dr Allen will gently inflate the balloon, clearing the swelling and opening the Eustachian tube to restore function.

Black woman smiling in the sunshine

Eustachian Tube Dilation Recovery

In the days following balloon dilation of the eustachian tubes, some discomfort such as a sore throat may be expected. Patients should avoid blowing their noses and strenuous activities for at least one week. Dr. Allen will evaluate the patient during a follow-up appointment to determine whether additional treatment is necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions About Eustachian Tube Dilation

When will I notice the results of my Eustachian tube balloon dilation?

While some patients encounter some relief shortly after their Eustachian tube dilation, the full results are usually realized after two weeks.

How successful is Eustachian tube dilation?

Eustachian tube dilation has up to a 92.3% success Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Balloon dilation of the Eustachian tube: clinical experience in the management of 126 children Tisch M, Maier H, Sudhoff H Go to Source rate.

What are the risks of Eustachian tube dilation?

Eustachian tube dilation has been approved by the FDA, and is considered to be a safe procedure when performed by an experienced surgeon such as Dr. Shawn Allen. Risks of Eustachian tube dilation are rare, and may include infection, nose bleeds, and tissue Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation Mount Sinai Go to Source trauma.

Shawn Allen, ENT

Contact Dr. Allen

If you suffer from ear infections, contact Dr. Shawn Allen to learn more about Eustachian tube balloon dilation. Dr. Allen is proud to serve patients from Houston, The Woodlands, Texas.

1 Cleveland Clinic. Eustachian Tubes. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22072-eustachian-tubes#. Accessed March 7, 2023.

2 Johns Hopkins Medicine. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. Available: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/eustachian-tube-dysfunction. Accessed March 7, 2023.

3 Shan A, Ward BK, Goman AM, Betz JF, Reed NS, Poe DS, Nieman CL. Prevalence of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction in Adults in the United States. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2019 Oct 1;145(10):974-975. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2019.1917. PMID: 31369057; PMCID: PMC6681559. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31369057/. Accessed March 7, 2023.

4 Tisch M, Maier H, Sudhoff H. Balloon dilation of the Eustachian tube: clinical experience in the management of 126 children. Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2017 Dec;37(6):509-512. doi: 10.14639/0392-100X-1690. PMID: 29327736; PMCID: PMC5782429. Available:

5 Mount Sinai. Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation. Available: https://www.mountsinai.org/care/ent/services/nasal-sinus-allergy/eustachian-tube. Accessed March 7, 2023.

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