What is tubular catarrh?

In the case of tube catarrh, the mucous membrane of the ear trumpet (auditory tuba, eustachian tube) becomes inflamed. As a result, the pressure equalization in the middle ear no longer works properly

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Tubular catarrh - briefly explained

Tubular catarrh (middle ear catarrh, syringitis) is when the mucous membrane of the eustachian tube (eustachian tube, auditory tube) is inflamed. This can occur, for example, as part of a cold. Children are more prone to this than adults because the child's eustachian tube is quite short and lies horizontally.

The tube connects the nasopharynx and the middle ear, normally opens when swallowing and yawning and is responsible for equalizing pressure and transporting secretions.
Doctors differentiate between acute and chronic tubular catarrh.

Acute tubular catarrh


The disease usually manifests itself as a sudden feeling of pressure in the ear. The patients perceive hissing or pulsing, only hear muffled tones ("like under a glass bell") and become temporarily hard of hearing. Sometimes dizziness occurs as well.

The reason: When the mucous membrane of the eustachian tube is inflamed, it swells. The naturally small opening of the ear trumpet narrows, the duct becomes blocked, and the middle ear is no longer ventilated enough. A negative pressure is created. This causes the intact eardrum to shift, and the ossicles can no longer move as well. The hearing loss can also be related to an accumulation of a thin fluid secretion (tympanic effusion) in the tympanic cavity, which is behind the eardrum.


The lining of the eustachian tube can become inflamed for a number of reasons. For example, runny nose (colds), allergic reactions, inflamed sinuses, enlarged tonsils or tumors of the nasopharynx are possible.


Ear problems should always be clarified with a doctor. The symptoms mentioned can have many other causes as well. Only the doctor can make the diagnosis after a thorough examination.

The doctor may advise the patient to swallow, yawn, chew, and move their jaws to reopen the passage to the eustachian tube. The pressure equalization sometimes works again if you hold your nose and carefully blow air into your nose a few times with your mouth closed (only use if the nasopharynx is not inflamed).Nasal drops that contain decongestant agents, heat treatments and nasal showers may also be recommended. Depending on the findings, the doctor will also point out that water should not get into your ears when showering or bathing. The underlying disease should be treated at the same time.

Chronic tubal catarrh


The patients report symptoms similar to those of acute tubular catarrh, with the hearing impairment worsening and persisting.

Root cause:

If the eustachian tube is not well ventilated for a long time, the initially thin mucus in the middle ear thickens and an effusion occurs. Due to the prolonged inflammation, the secretion changes color and bleeding is also possible. In the further course, the eardrum may thicken and calcify. The ossicles can also grow together and stiffen (tympanic sclerosis).


Here, too, there is an exact clarification by the doctor before the therapy. He or she may recommend measures to improve nasal breathing - for example, nasal rinsing with a saline solution (nasal douche). They can help clear mucus and possible crusts in your nose. Warmth and inhalations can also loosen the mucus. The doctor can prescribe medication so that the mucous membrane swells, less secretion is formed, the inflammation subsides and earache becomes more bearable for a short time.

In the case of chronic tubal catarrh, an operation may be necessary: ​​The doctor opens the eardrum (paracentesis) so that the fluid that has formed due to a tympanic effusion can drain away.

If there are scarred adhesions in the middle ear, they can be loosened surgically.

Important NOTE:
This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor. Unfortunately, our experts cannot answer individual questions.


Pschyrembel Online: Tubular catarrh. Online: https://www.pschyrembel.de/Tubenkatarrh/K0N42 (accessed 01/2021)

Poe D: Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. UpToDate Inc 12/2020. Online: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search (accessed 01/2021)