The Relation of Allergy to Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and the Subsequent Need for Insertion of Pressure Equalization Tubes.
The most basic question to be answered in each case in which the choice of using a pressure equalization tube (PET) is being considered is: “what is the underlying pathophysiology of the middle ear disease being addressed?”We will evaluate the hypothesis that the Eustachian Tube (ET) may become “dysfunctional” due to allergic mucosal edema and obstruction. We review the literature that evaluates the role of ET, the proposed affect that allergy may contribute to ET dysfunction (ETD), and the relation of allergic rhinitis to otitis.Proof that allergy affects the middle ear was supported by (1) over a dozen investigators using objective immunotherapy demonstrating over the past 70 years that 72% to 100% of the children with otitis media with effusion (OME) are atopic, (2) an association of allergic Th2 immune-mediated histochemical reactivity within the target organ itself, (3) establishment that inflammation within the middle ear is truly allergic in nature, and (4) direct evidence of a dose-response curve and consistency of results, which confirm that OME resolves on allergy immunotherapy.Current medical evidence should heighten the awareness of physicians of the physiology that underlies ETD. The evidence supports the link between allergy and OME. The middle ear behaves like the rest of the respiratory tract, and what has been learned about the atopic response in the sinuses and lungs may be applied to the study of the immunologic mechanisms within the middle ear that lead to ETD requiring the use of PET.