15 January 2018
Approximately 1% of the population suffer with pressure symptoms in their ears. For some people this is only troublesome when flying, due to an inability to equalise the pressures within their middle ears as the flight descends. However, for others it can cause problems at other times, particularly after a cold or sinusitis, when it can be associated with hearing problems, ear popping, crackling or tinnitus.
These symptoms are thought to occur due to inflammation and narrowing of the Eustachian tube, which links the middle part of the ear with the back of the nose. Collectively these symptoms are termed “Eustachian tube dysfunction.”
Most people with this set of symptoms will receive treatment with steroid drops or sprays or will try over-the-counter ear inflation devices. If these treatments prove to be unsuccessful, then the next step might be to consider surgical insertion of ventilation tubes, often referred to as grommets. However, surgery can cause other problems such as changes to the eardrum, ear pain or tinnitus, and the symptoms may return when the grommets fall out.
More recently a novel treatment has been introduced which involves gently stretching the opening the Eustachian tube using a minimally invasive approach that can be conducted as a short day-case procedure. This procedure, known as “Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilatation,” has been shown to be extremely safe and effective. Clinical studies in the USA and in Europe have demonstrated high rates of technical success along with a very low incidence of adverse events. The procedure is carried out via the nose using endoscopes and a specially designed instrument to access the Eustachian tube without the need for any incision or cut.
Eustachian tube balloon dilatation is now available at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital and can be carried out by Mr Sameer Khemani, Consultant ENT Surgeon and Specialist Ear Surgeon.
Enquiries can be made by contacting Spire Gatwick Park Hospital on 01293 778 906.