Q:

What is the channel between the middle ear and the nasopharynx?

A:

Quick Answer

The channel between the middle ear and the nasopharynx is the Eustachian tube, which is also called the pharyngotympanic tube. The Eustachian tube plays an important role in protecting the middle ear from loud sounds and pressure fluctuations.

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Full Answer

The Eustachian tube opens when someone yawns or swallows. This helps maintain normal atmospheric pressure in the ear, according to Medscape contributor Dr. Ted L. Tewfik. When the Eustachian tube is closed, it helps dampen loud sounds before they reach the middle ear. Dr. Tewfik says the opening and closing of each Eustachian tube also helps drain fluid from the middle ear into the nasopharynx. Someone with a blocked Eustachian tube may develop a middle ear infection as a result of reduced fluid drainage, according to experts from St. Vincent Medical Center.

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