Is there a link between allergy and eustachian tube dysfunction? Symptoms of eustachian tube dysfunction are:
- fullness in the ears
- feeling like your ears are “plugged”
- changes to your hearing
- ringing in the ear
- clicking or popping sounds
- ticklish feelings in the ears
The Eustachian tube is a small passageway that connects your throat to your middle ear. When you sneeze, swallow, or yawn, your Eustachian tubes open. This keeps air pressure and fluid from building up inside your ear. But sometimes a Eustachian tube might get plugged.
The cause of eustachian tube dysfunction can be unknown or be due to cold, sinus infections or allergies. Several studies have shown that intranasal allergen challenges can result in Eustachian tube dysfunction, and histologically increased allergy markers such as CD3 T cells, IL-4 and IL-5 are increased at both ends.
Allergy testing can reveal whether allergies may be a contributing factor.
When there is swelling in the nose and throat due to allergies, you can get swelling around the opening of the Eustachian tube. This can lead to negative pressure within the middle ear, which can pull the eardrum in. If the pull is strong enough, the cells can secrete fluid and cause an ear infection.
It is not always known what are the causes of eustachian tube dysfunction, but altitude changes can also cause problems in the ear from:
- traveling through mountains
- flying on a plane
- riding an elevator
Allergy immunotherapy may also be beneficial according to some studies, but the studies were small and more are needed to be done to show a beneficial relationship in those with allergy and eustachian tube dysfunction.
Although most cases of eustachian tube dysfunction resolve in a few days, some people have extended cases. Treating the underlying the causes (if found) are important.