The Eustachian tube is a small canal that links the middle ear to a section of airways found at the border between the nose and the pharynx (rhino-pharynx). Thanks to this canal, the exchange of air between the middle ear and the external environment take place. For example, thanks to the Eustachian tubes, we compensate the difference in pressure that occurs when we fly or go up into mountains.This tube is coated with a ciliated epithelium (such as the one of the bronchi) that makes the glandular secretion move to the rhino-pharynx. Thanks to the movement involved with swallowing, the tube expands and the rhino-pharynx opening (the ostium) opens. Probably the balance between the environmental pressure and endotympanic pressure occurs with its opening.
Therefore, the tube has three fundamental functions:
1) Ventilation of the tympanic cavity.
2) Protection of the tympanic cavity from rhino-pharynx secretions.
3) Drainage of the tympanic cavity secretions.
The first function is important for the efficiency of hearing: the decrease of the endotympanic pressure determines, in fact, a decrease in hearing. A pervious tube balances the pressure, restoring the correct hearing function. The protection performed by the tube is mechanical because, when it closes, it prevents the rhino-pharynx secretions and food residual, which could be a source of infection, from entering. Finally, the biological mechanisms (cilia) favor natural drainage and cleansing of the tympanic cavity.
CONSEQUENCES OF INFLAMMATION IN THE EUSTACHIAN TUBE
The worse complication is rhinogenic deafness, a decrease in hearing caused by rhino-pharynx inflammations (from which the word rhinogenic derives), meaning of the nose, throat and of its reflexes on the middle ear and eardrum through a not perfectly working tube.
THERMAL THERAPIES WITH SALT-BROMINE-IODINE WATER
The treatment is carried out on the tube by means of endotympanic insufflations and aims at removing the cause of the inflammation (inflammation of the first airways) by means of inhalations that prevent the tube-tympanic inflammation process from having new acute phases. Insufflations with Abano and Montegrotto thermal water have an efficient anti-inflammatory, anti-catarrhal and eutrophic effect that has been widely proven by scientific studies. Their mechanic action guarantees an efficient ventilation of the cavity and obtains the best therapeutic effects with the tube-tympanic insufflations.
HOW TO PRACTICE THEM
Thermal tube-tympanic insufflations are a method that consists of nebulizing water directly into the tube by means of a catheter introduced into the nasal cavity up to reach the rhino-pharynx opening of the tube, eventually using an otoscope to observe the displacements or modifications of the luminous reflex of the tympanic membrane, which indicate the penetration of the gas into the tympanic cavity.