The Eustachian tube is a very important area of the body because it joins the pharynx at the back of the throat. Its main function is to conduct air and sound waves to the structure located in the middle ear. It can also be the space in which mucus travels from ear to nasopharynx. This tube is necessary for ensuring air pressure inside the ear is at equilibrium. It can also protect the ear from receiving high decibel sounds.
Overall, the Eustachian tube protects the middle ear. Since it has various functions, damage or blockage to the Eustachian tube can result in problems with inflammation, and inability to clear mucus from the tube. It is about 3 to 4 centimeters in adults. It is not a tube that is always open but will only open when we swallow, chew, or yawn.
This is why people are encouraged to chew or yawn to stabilize the pressure in the ear at higher altitude levels. If the Eustachian tube becomes blocked, this is known as Eustachian tube dysfunction. When the blocked Eustachian tube occurs, then the functions of the Eustachian tube are impaired resulting in an increased pressure on the outside of the eardrum.
This leads to reduced hearing and if the pressure builds to a high enough level, the person can experience pain, as the eardrum is turned inward and flattened. The person can also experience tinnitus or a "ringing in the ear." A blocked tube can also be felt as if water is in the ear. The inflammation can also cause dizziness. The causes of a blocked Eustachian tube include infection, allergies, or swimming.