Eustachian Tube Problems: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Anatomy of the ear

The eustachian (say "you-STAY-shee-un") tubes run between the inside of the ears and the throat. They keep air pressure stable in the ears. If your eustachian tubes become blocked, the air pressure in your ears changes. The fluids from a cold can clog eustachian tubes, causing pain in the ears. A quick change in air pressure can cause eustachian tubes to close up. This might happen when an airplane changes altitude or when a scuba diver goes up or down underwater.

Eustachian tube problems often clear up on their own or after antibiotic treatment. If your tubes continue to be blocked, you may need surgery.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • To ease ear pain, apply a warm face cloth or a heating pad set on low. There may be some drainage from the ear when the heat melts earwax. Put a cloth between the heat source and your skin. Do not use a heating pad with children.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medicine. Be safe with medicines. Oral or nasal decongestants may relieve ear pain. Avoid decongestants that are combined with antihistamines, which tend to cause more blockage. But if allergies seem to be the problem, your doctor may recommend a combination. Be careful with cough and cold medicines. Don't give them to children younger than 6, because they don't work for children that age and can even be harmful. For children 6 and older, always follow all the instructions carefully. Make sure you know how much medicine to give and how long to use it. And use the dosing device if one is included.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You develop sudden, complete hearing loss.
  • You have severe pain or feel dizzy.
  • You have new or increasing pus or blood draining from your ear.
  • You have redness, swelling, or pain around or behind the ear.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better after 2 weeks.
  • You have any new symptoms, such as itching or a feeling of fullness in the ear.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: July 29, 2016