Eustachian tube


The Eustachian tube is a tube that is lined by mucosa and is a continuity of the nostrils . Its name was given in the 16th century in honor of the anatomist named Eustachius . In general, the tube is closed and opens when you yawn or swallow food or liquid, protecting parts of the ear from sudden changes caused by air pressure.


What is the Eustachian tube?

The Eustachian tube is a canal that connects the middle ear with the nasopharynx, formed by the upper part of the throat and the posterior part of the nasal cavity. It controls the pressure inside the middle ear, making it equal to the air pressure outside the body.

  • Characteristics of the Eustachian tube
  • Where is it located
  • Function
  • Dysfunction
  • Obstructed eustachian tube

Characteristics of the Eustachian tube

The main characteristics of the Eustachian tube are:

  • They are responsible for connecting the middle ears with the back of the throat .
  • The tubes help the ears drain fluid .
  • They are responsible for maintaining the pressure of the air in ears at the proper level.
  • It is between 3.5 to 4 cm long and is lined by a layer of mucosa .
  • It is known as the tuba or auditory tube .
  • It is responsible for controlling the pressures in the middle ear.
  • In children they are shorter which makes them more prone to infections .

Where is it located

The Eustachian tube is a small canal that connects the middle ear with the back of the nose and is located in the upper part of the throat or nasopharynx .


Most of the time, the Eustachian tube is closed , opening only during activities such as yawning , swallowing, and chewing , to allow air to enter through the passage between the middle ear and the nasopharynx . When atmospheric pressure changes rapidly, causing a sudden feeling of blockage in the ear, these activities can be done on purpose to open the tube and equalize the pressure within the middle ear .

Its main function is to establish adequate communication between the anterior and upper part of the tympanic cage with the upper part of the pharynx in order to be able to regulate the pressures that occur within the middle ear, and in this way take care of the structures in the event of sudden changes. balancing the pressures on both sides of the eardrum .


When the Eustachian tube fails to open enough to equalize the pressure , then symptoms such as discomfort , dizziness or ringing in the ear may appear. Visual examination of the eardrum using a lighted scope helps determine if the cause is inflammation , swelling, or fluid in the ear. Conditions such as a stuffy nose, ear or sinus infection , or allergies can cause these symptoms and lead to Eustachian tube problems. These causes can often be treated with medications decongestants or antibiotics, but in severe cases, surgery may be necessary .

The Eustachian tubes can be blocked for different reasons, for example:

  • Common cold.
  • Infectious diseases of the upper respiratory tract.
  • Chronic middle ear infections.
  • Rhinitis.
  • Adenoid hypertrophy.
  • Alterations of the nasal septum.

Obstructed eustachian tube

The main cause for the eustachian tube is obstructed due to swelling that generally occurs because of a cold , allergies or infection of the sinuses . These diseases cause pressure changes and fluid can build up in the middle ear causing pain. Another reason they become clogged is due to changes in pressure that occur while traveling by air , for example , driving in the mountains or diving.

When the tubes become blocked they can cause a variety of symptoms which are quite uncomfortable to tolerate, for example:

  • Ear pain
  • Sensation of having the ears plugged .
  • Ringing or popping in the ears.
  • Problems hearing .
  • Lightheadedness .

So usually when the eustachian tubes become clogged also they heal themselves. In many cases a simple exercise can help the person to feel better, close the mouth, hold the nose and blow gently. Another way to relieve pressure is to yawn or try chewing gum. The most common is hearing or feeling a type of ” clicking ” as the tubes open to make the pressure equal between the inside and outside of the ears.

In case these methods fail, you should go to the doctor who will indicate an appropriate treatment to end the problem and the symptoms that in many cases can become quite uncomfortable. If an infection occurs , antibiotics will be the medicine of choice for the doctor, as well as decongestants either by mouth or nose. The placement of heating pillows helps to relieve earache, taking care that it is not too hot to avoid burns, and this practice should not be applied in children.

In more extreme cases, a surgery will be needed , by means of which a small cut is made in the eardrum to be able to drain the fluid that is in it and in this way the pressure in the ear can be relieved. hearing.

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