An alternative to ear tubes would be undergoing balloon dilation of the eustachian tubes, which uses a balloon catheter to gently open the areas located between the nose and the back of the throat to provide lasting relief of ear congestion symptoms.
Who is a candidate?
Good candidates for ear tubes have:
- Persisting ear fluid with fullness, muffled hearing
- Difficulty clearing or popping the ears, such as with plane flights
- Frequent episodes of ear infections despite treatment
- Hearing loss from ear fluid
What to expect
With this procedure, the nose is sprayed with topical numbing medicine and decongestant. After this takes effect, additional numbing is performed until the procedure can be done comfortably. The balloon is inserted while looking with a sinus endoscope camera. The inflation just takes a couple of minutes and the balloon is then removed, but still providing lasting relief. There is typically no pain after the procedure and no significant recovery, as no surgery is performed.