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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and Dizziness



Dear Doctor,

Last May of `08, I started experiencing bouts of extreme dizziness which lasted until late fall. Doctors could not see anything when looking into my ears, and would just send me home to suffer. By the time I got in to see a Neuro-otologist, the dizziness was gone (late fall), so he couldn`t give me a proper diagnosis. He did have caloric testing done which ruled out any problems with my vestibular system. Everything was fine there including my overall balance. I kept explaining to him that I`ve also had a lot of plugging in my ears with intermittent ear pain, which went overlooked.

I was pretty much dizzy-free throughout the winter season, with the odd spell of dizziness, but not as extreme as during the summer months. May of this year, it has come back again (the dizziness and clogged ears). With that said, I`m pretty sure I have ETD likely caused by seasonal allergies (since it seems to come around allergy season) although, the only symptom of allergies that I have are plugged ears with phlegm in back of nose and throat and slight irritable dry cough, but not every day which is baffling as I thought allergies would be an every day occurrence during the season. It was seeming worse on the rainy days. The last two days have been sunny with no humidity - quite cool, and I don`t have the dizziness or plugged feeling, so now I`m not sure if it`s allergies or not.

I am going to make an appointment to go back and see the Neuro-otologist who said I could do so if the symptoms returned. It`s just so difficult to diagnose when it`s intermittent like this.

Is there anything you can suggest that I can ask he do to check for ETD? As stated earlier, he has already performed the caloric and balance testing along with a hearing test, which was also normal. Since he overlooked the ear pain and pressure last time, I feel I will have to suggest something to him. Also, can you please tell me how ETD causes dizziness? In other words, how unequalized pressure in the middle ear affects the inner ear in order to cause that dizziness? I`ve been trying to research that myself, and can`t find the answers anywhere.

Thank you in advance,


I don't know if you have Eustachian tube dysfunction induced dizziness. You may need to consider an MRI scan. You may have allergy induced dizziness, which I see most commonly with Meniere's disease. Consider allergy testing. When you go back to see him, you might also suggest a repeat audio and an ecog. Thanks.

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Response by:

Ravi N Samy, MD, FACS Ravi N Samy, MD, FACS
Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Skull Base Surgery Fellowship, Director of Adults Cochlear Implantation Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati