The ear may feel blocked if the pressure outside the ear changes, but the pressure inside the ear does not change. When this happens, the eardrum cannot vibrate normally. It often occurs during altitude changes, like flying in an airplane, driving on steep hills, or scuba diving. Swallowing, yawning, or chewing usually make the symptoms go away.
ETD occurs if the tube is blocked or swollen, trapping air and fluids in the middle ear. This causes symptoms to continue beyond a few hours. Sometimes it can lead to ear damage.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting ETD. Tell your doctor if you have any of these factors:
- Activities with large, rapid altitude changes, such as flying in an airplane or scuba diving
- Allergy, cold, or other upper respiratory infection
- Ear or sinus infection
- Narrow eustachian tube
- Presence of obstructing tumors in the nasopharynx
- Children with large adenoids
- Age: Children (Their eustachian tubes are narrower.)
- Environmental allergies