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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.
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Some Home Remedies
A simple blocked Eustachian tube home remedy is simply using chewing gum. For some people, chewing vigorously on a piece of gum might help relieve the pressure on the eardrum. A second option would be to tilt the head from side to side and flexing the muscles of the throat. This exercise can help relieve the pressure while chewing gum, but also it can be effective for some rather than chewing gum.
However, there are various other home treatments for blocked Eustachian tubes such as using warm salt water to unblock the tube. This is a simple method by preparing warm water and adding a small amount of salt to it. Next place a teaspoon of water in the palm of your hands and inhale small amounts of it through your nostrils. Do this only a few times with very small amounts of water - large amounts of water are not recommended. The warm water of this home treatment will help unclog the area, and the salt has analgesic effects.
Other than using salt water, there are various oils to help unblock the tube. Oils such as garlic or eucalyptus oil can relieve the pressure on the eardrum when a few drops are placed into the ear. Garlic can be chopped up and placed in olive oil if it cannot be found ready-made. Eucalyptus oil can be purchased ready-made and it also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Therefore, it is a great oil to use for opening blocked passages as a blocked Eustachian tube home remedy.
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Print Source: Cotran R, Kumar V, and Robbins, SL. 1999. Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease, 6th Ed. W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia.
Web Source: WebMD. "Blocked Eustachian Tubes". 2009. Available: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/blocked-eustachian-tubes-topic-overview
Web Source: The British United Provident Association Limited. "Otitis Media." 2009. Available: http://hcd2.bupa.co.uk/fact_sheets/html/otitis_media.html