The eustachian tubes are small tubes that connect the middle ear (i.e., air-filled space behind the eardrum) to the back of the throat. They are about the size of a pencil lead and lined with a thin mucus layer.
The primary function of the eustachian tubes is to equalize the pressure in the middle ear with the pressure outside the ear. When the eustachian tubes work correctly, they open and close quickly and easily, allowing air to flow in and out of the middle ear.
However, when the eustachian tubes become blocked or do not function properly, you may experience popping and crackling in the ear, making hearing difficult.
Eustachian tube dysfunction may also cause you to experience the following symptoms in the ear:
- A tickling sensation
- Ringing (i.e., Tinnitus)
- Pain resembling an ear infection
Dysfunction of the Eustachian tube can occur for various reasons, such as:
- Sinus infections