Patulous eustachian tube
is a benign condition in which the eustachian tube stays open most of the time. The eustachian tube is the tube that runs between the middle ear and throat and regulates the ear pressure around the ear drum. Under normal circumstances, it remains closed most of the time, opening only on occasion to equalize air pressure between the middle ear and the exterior environment. Major symptoms include distorted autophony (hearing one's own voice or breathing), echoing which may interfere with speech production, wave-like sounds, and a sensation of fullness in the ear. In severe cases, vertigo and hearing loss may occur. Over time, individuals with patulous eustachian tube may develop serious and even extreme responses to the abnormal sounds and other findings. In most cases, the cause of patulous eustachian tube is unknown. Weight loss and pregnancy may be predisposing factors. Neurologic disorders that cause muscle atrophy such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, and motor neuron disease have been implicated in some cases of patulous eustachian tube. Other cases may be associated with medications such as oral contraceptives or diuretics. Other predisposing factors include fatigue, stress, anxiety, exercise, and temporomandibular joint syndrome. Source: Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), supported by ORDR-NCATS and NHGRI.