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Eustachian tube patency

Eustachian tube patency refers to how much the eustachian tube is open. The eustachian tube runs between the middle ear and the throat. It controls the pressure behind the eardrum and middle ear space. This helps keep the middle ear free of fluid.

The eustachian tube is normally open, or patent. However, some conditions can increase pressure in the ear such as:

  • Ear infections
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Altitude changes
These can cause the eustachian tube to become blocked.

References

Kerschner JE, Preciado D. Otitis media. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 640.

O'Reilly RC, Levi J. Anatomy and physiology of the eustachian tube. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 131.

Review Date 8/31/2016

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.