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Eustachian Tube

The eustachian tubes run between the inside of the ears and the back of the throat. When a person swallows, the eustachian tubes open briefly to match the air pressure in the middle ear with the air pressure outside the ear.

If the eustachian tubes become blocked, pressure changes cause pain in the ear. Fluid may build up in the ear, sometimes leading to infection (otitis media). Young children are at an increased risk for ear infections, because they have eustachian tubes that are shorter, more horizontal, and more easily blocked than those in older children and adults.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Charles M. Myer, III, MD - Otolaryngology
Last Revised September 10, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 10, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.