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Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and BTV Exercises

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Andrew702

Andrew702

Member
Apr 7, 2016
49
24
23
I am hoping some members might be able to shine some light on issues I've been having with my ears. I'll give a little background. I started diving 3 years ago and always had a bad ear after a few days of training it would stop equalizing. I ended up taking a long break about a year and half. I then moved to Bali to train more. After about two weeks in the water the eustachian tube was not opening and closing properly. I could force air in but it would stay "full" sometimes for over a day. After a month of trying everything I ended up seeing an ENT in Singapore and eventually having Eustachian Tube Balloon Dialation.

After this surgery my ear worked perfectly, in fact it was better than ever. I managed to train for about another six months in Bali. However after about 1 month the tube still functioned well but was not as good as the first month but it did remained stable after that. I was told the effects of balloon are not permanent and usually within 3 years the tube goes back to its original state. I remained careful not to string too many sessions in a row and rest my ears.

Since then I took another six months off and now have come to Dahab to train. My ear is always something I am worried about and I try to not overuse it. After about a month here I was a bit worried. The eustachian tube began to function poorly. I took two days off and tried to dive and I couldn't even surface equalize.

That night I met a new diver who had trouble equalizing. Her instructor taught her a BTV exercise to try. That night when I went home my ear was barely functioning. I could force air in but it would stay trapped for about 30 min. In bed I decided to do some BTV exercises which I had done in the past. After about 4 or 5 of them I tried to equalize. Surprisingly the ear was perfect, a clean sounding equalization.

I'm suspecting that the two muscles which control the eustachian tube have always been the problem. When I stress them they must get inflamed and seize up. I assume that the exercises stretched or moved the muscles so they began to function normal again. Whatever it is, it seems to have worked. Still my ears are sensitive, I need to rest them, but it seems the exercises help speed recovery time.

The questions I have are:
1. Do others think the muscles controlling the ET were the problem?
2. Which muscle controls the opening and which exercises specifically help with that muscle?
3. Are there other exercises that can help?
4. Any tips to keep the eustachian tubes working properly?
5. Does anyone have links to BTV exercises cause some instructions are a little confusing where I am reading them?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Amity
C

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
4,069
804
218
72
Odd and interesting problem, Andrew. I've never run into anything quite like that. What BTV exercises are you doing?
 
Andrew702

Andrew702

Member
Apr 7, 2016
49
24
23
I've found 3 different sets of instructions for BTV all relatively the same. I've been running through the full set. The results have been somewhat positive. I did manage to dive but as of the last few days my equalization is poor.

It's a bit worrisome and I'm starting to consider surgery again. As I've already had the balloon dilation once I may opt for it again but I'm also considering a more permanent solution. There is only one ENT in the world I've found who does laser Eustachian tuboplasty and he's based out of Switzerland. It's expensive and is typically only available in research but he invented the technique and does perform the surgery. I'd be interested to know if anyone has spoken with Dr. Kujawski in Geneva. He considers the balloon dilation a pseudoscience and risky. This I somewhat agree with cause my last ENT even said that can't explain why exactly it work, it just does. If anyone has any good advice it'd be much appreciated but I might be become a test dummy soon for the sake of science and freediving community.
 
C

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
4,069
804
218
72
Probably not saying anything you don't already know, but failure to depressurise strongly suggests very tight and probably swollen etubes. Could it be that the muscles contoling the valves are also inflamed to the point that they are sticking closed?? Never heard of that, but I guess its possible. Exercising the valve muscles should improve that, but it will be a slow process to strenthen the muscles. Lots of reps every day is called for. I know for sure that exercising the muscles makes them stronger and better able to pull open the valve, but that won't make inflamation in the etube itself go away.

Something that might help. You can feel the muscles tighten. Carefully, feel back in the center of your mouth to where the hard pallete meets the soft palette. Now feel to the side and you will feel a small projection of the hard pallete. Careful, its fragile, don't press hard. Now tense the musceles controling the etube valve. You can feel the muscles contract. As they get stronger, you can monitor how much bigger they are getting and how much harder they contract.

Can't advise on the laser tuboplasty, never heard of that. A general principal: try everything else first before you let a surgeon loose on your body.
 
S

SandroL

New Member
Jul 4, 2022
2
0
1
32
Hello Andrew,

I have faced a similar issue you have before. I equalize very well at the beginning of 4-5 dives but my ET becomes swollen and won't let me equalize for a while. I also avoid diving in the morning because my ET is blocked early of the day and opened afternoon. For this reason, I am considering ET balloon dilation surgery.

Have you found any solution in addition to ET balloon dilation surgery? Are you doing more enjoyable diving these days?
 
Amity

Amity

New Member
May 11, 2022
1
0
1
46
I am hoping some members might be able to shine some light on issues I've been having with my ears. I'll give a little background. I started diving 3 years ago and always had a bad ear after a few days of training it would stop equalizing. I ended up taking a long break about a year and half. I then moved to Bali to train more. After about two weeks in the water the eustachian tube was not opening and closing properly. I could force air in but it would stay "full" sometimes for over a day. After a month of trying everything I ended up seeing an ENT in Singapore and eventually having Eustachian Tube Balloon Dialation.

After this surgery my ear worked perfectly, in fact it was better than ever. I managed to train for about another six months in Bali. However after about 1 month the tube still functioned well but was not as good as the first month but it did remained stable after that. I was told the effects of balloon are not permanent and usually within 3 years the tube goes back to its original state. I remained careful not to string too many sessions in a row and rest my ears.

Since then I took another six months off and now have come to Dahab to train. My ear is always something I am worried about and I try to not overuse it. After about a month here I was a bit worried. The eustachian tube began to function poorly. I took two days off and tried to dive and I couldn't even surface equalize.

That night I met a new diver who had trouble equalizing. Her instructor taught her a BTV exercise to try. That night when I went home my ear was barely functioning. I could force air in but it would stay trapped for about 30 min. In bed I decided to do some BTV exercises which I had done in the past. After about 4 or 5 of them I tried to equalize. Surprisingly the ear was perfect, a clean sounding equalization.

I'm suspecting that the two muscles which control the eustachian tube have always been the problem. When I stress them they must get inflamed and seize up. I assume that the exercises stretched or moved the muscles so they began to function normal again. Whatever it is, it seems to have worked. Still my ears are sensitive, I need to rest them, but it seems the exercises help speed recovery time.

The questions I have are:
1. Do others think the muscles controlling the ET were the problem?
2. Which muscle controls the opening and which exercises specifically help with that muscle?
3. Are there other exercises that can help?
4. Any tips to keep the eustachian tubes working properly?
5. Does anyone have links to BTV exercises cause some instructions are a little confusing where I am reading them?
Hi Andrew, I've got the exact same problem and it's bloody frustrating isn't it. I've just perforated an eardrum because of it too.

I've been pushing for my doctor's to refer me to have the balloon dilation but and gutted it's taking so long as since they finally referred me I got the perforation and I feel that once they're damaged like that, it's going to happen more easily. Tbh they should never have put grommets in my ear drums as an adult when I had ETD, it's a useless procedure and frankly quite barbaric if you think about it. The dilation seems so much more sensible and logical.

I'm not sure if you've seen more recent messages but would love to hear how you're doing and if you managed to work with the Dr out of Geneva?

I'm wanting to be in the water all the time for Spearfishing but there's just no way when it's constant ear infections and EQ impossibility.

Hope to hear from you, best, Katy
 
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