All of us experience the need to “pop” our ears when changes in elevation occur. However, people who suffer from Ménière’s disease are more markedly affected by the change in atmospheric pressure. While normal people feel instant relief opening the Eustachian tube and equalizing pressure in the middle ear, people who suffer from Ménière’s Disease also get the inner ear affected by the pressure. This may cause increased tinnitus, dizziness and changes in hearing.
The ventilation tube aims at equalizing the middle ear pressure with the outside environment, but it will likely not change the inner ear effects of the atmospheric pressure changes. Studies done comparing symptoms between groups of people with and without ventilation tubes fail to show a significant improvement in the group with tubes.
In summary, ventilation tubes have been shown to be effective in middle ear disorders (such as fluid behind the eardrum), but may not alleviate inner ear symptoms associated with changes in atmospheric pressure. The tube may help equalize the pressure and you may feel less of an urge to “pop,” but you may continue to experience these symptoms due to the inner ear disorder. Make sure to discuss pros and cons of having ventilation tubes put in with your ENT doctor (otolaryngologist). Read more about Ménière’s disease.