Eustachian Tube Dysfunction | Causes & Risk Factors

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What causes eustachian tube dysfunction?

The most common cause of eustachian tube dysfunction is excessive mucus and inflammation of the tube caused by a cold, the flu, a sinus infection or allergies.

Who is at risk for eustachian tube dysfunction?

Children are at greater risk of eustachian tube dysfunction because their tubes are shorter and straighter than those of an adult. This makes it easier for germs to reach the middle ear and for fluid to become trapped there. Also, children’s immune systems are not fully developed, so it’s harder for them to fight off infections.

Smoking and obesity are also risk factors. Smoking damages the cilia (the tiny hairs that sweep mucus from the middle ear to the back of the nose). This can allow mucus to gather in the tubes. In people who are obese, fatty deposits around the tubes can also lead to eustachian tube dysfunction.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/11
Created: 10/09

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