Patulous Eustachian Tube

The middle ear is a air-filled space, which, under normal circumstances, has the same pressure as the environmental (outside) air pressure.  The function of the Eustachian tube is to equalize this pressure.  In some circumstances the Eustachian tube is chronically open, causing a condition referred to as a Patulous Eustachian tube.

It sometimes begins after a significant weight loss and sometimes after an ear infection.  Because the tube is constantly open, the patient may hear himself breathe, and his voice may reverberate in the affected ear.  Fullness and a blocked feeling are also common sensations experienced by the patient.  The typical symptoms are generally worse with exercise, and relieved when lying supine, because the head becomes level with heart, and the Eustachian tube becomes more congested and therefore blocked in the supine position.  Typically no aural symptoms are present while lying in bed in the morning, but upon arising and moving about the symptoms re-occur.  Abnormal patency of the Eustachian tube can be extremely annoying but does not produce a hearing impairment.

Treatment of abnormally patent Eustachian tube can involve topical medications as well as surgical procedures.