After a recent cold I was left with what felt like water in my right ear. It was that congested feeling you get after swimming and you have to jump on one leg trying to get the water out. But I didn’t go swimming. It didn’t help that I also have constant ringing in that same ear. A quick check confirmed that it wasn’t an ear infection, so no antibiotics. I took some over the counter allergy medicine that did nothing to relieve the congestion. I started thinking that my Eustachian tube might be inflamed or congested. The Eustachian tube is a canal that connects the middle ear to the upper throat and the back of the nasal cavity.
The Eustachian tube’s job is to:
- balance pressure in the middle ear, keeping it equal with air pressure outside the body;
- protect the inner ear from nasal secretions;
- drain middle ear secretions into the area between the nasal cavity and upper throat.
When I experienced the congestion, the typical medical approach was to treat symptoms (e.g., with antibiotics, decongestants). No to the antibiotics, but yes to the decongestants. The holistic approach includes natural medicines and Eustachian Tube Massage (ETM), which can alleviate congestion and the discomfort it causes by stretching the soft tissue that lines the tube. This helps reduce pressure and promotes release of fluid from the tube. You can perform ETM on yourself.
How to perform Eustachian Tube Massage:
- After washing your hands, use your index or middle finger to feel behind the ear lobe for a bony bump. With firm, steady pressure slide your finger down until it slips into a groove between the ear lobe and the jaw.
- Follow that groove down the neck with your finger, sliding down (with same steady pressure) until you reach the collar bone.
- For a child or small adult, it may help to tilt your head to the shoulder opposite the ear that you are massaging. (Ex: If massaging right side, tilt head to left shoulder)
- Repeat three to four times per side, about three times a day.
You can also schedule a massage with one of our skilled massage therapists. The 30 minute Scalp, Neck and Shoulder Massage would be a great massage to address congested Eustachian tubes. Always consult your medical professional before seeking out alternative treatments. You would be surprised how many medical professionals also seek out massage services!
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