Patulous Eustachian tube (a temporary relief method that works for me)

from wikipedia


With patulous Eustachian tube, variations in upper airway pressure associated with respiration are transmitted to the middle ear through the eustachian tube. This causes an unpleasant fullness feeling in the middle ear and alters the auditory perception. Complaints seem to include "muffled" hearing and autophony. In addition, patulous Eustachian tube generally feels dry with no clogged feeling or sinus pressure.

Some patients with this condition are disturbed by the perceived volume of their voice, causing them to speak very quietly. Their own voice may also sound lower to other people, because the trachea has more volume when the Eustachian tube is open. The patient may also sound as if they have congestion when speaking. Some sufferers may have difficulty in normal activities. Increased breathing rate, such as that brought on by physical activity. The increased activity not only increases the rate and force of pressure changes in the airway, which is therefore transmitted more forcefully into the middle ear, but also drives increased blood flow to peripheral muscles, compounding the problem by further depleting the eustachian tube of extracellular fluid and increasing patency. The combination can lead to severe exacerbation of the symptoms. The urge to "clear" the ear is often mentioned.


Patulous Eustachian tube is a physical disorder. The exact causes may vary depending on the person. Weight loss is a commonly cited cause of the disorder due to the nature of the Eustachian tube itself. Fatty tissues hold the tube closed most of the time in healthy individuals. When circumstances cause overall body fat to diminish, the tissue surrounding the Eustachian tube shrinks and this function is disrupted.

Activities and substances which dehydrate the body have the same effect and are also possible causes of patulous Eustachian tube. Examples are stimulants (including caffeine) and exercise. Exercise may have a more short-term effect than caffeine or weight loss in this regard.

Pregnancy can also be a cause of patulous Eustachian tube due to the effects of pregnancy hormones on surface tension and mucous in the respiratory system.

Temporary Relief method that works for me

Sit in chair and lean head back as far as you can.  Squirt Saline nasal spray (available at any pharmacy) NOT MEDICATED NASAL SPRAY (ouch), until you feel it run down your throat.  Wait a few seconds. Sit up and test if condition cleared by swallowing if necessary.  If not, repeat procedure two to four times as needed.  Should be harmless as it is just salt water. In fact nasal irrigation is a common treatment for blocked nasal problems and a frequent tool is a NETI POT, see:

Of course saline solution is not necessary, just more sterile, plain water works as well.  In fact on a couple occasions I had the problem in a restaurant and applied the method by taking a soda straw into the restroom, hold one end closed with a finger and fill  the straw from the tap (not the sink, yuck) and apply as above.  Hide in a stall if embarrassed.

Results last from a few minutes to a few hours.  If condition reoccurs, repeat procedure.  Usually lasts a few hours after repeating the procedure two to three time.

However, it does not always work, depending on how long the condition existed before this procedure, but it is worth it to keep trying when it does not.

I am not a doctor so use at your own risk.