Objective: To investigate the prevalence of eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) in elderly adults in the United States and its association with other upper aerodigestive inflammatory processes.
Study design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Population based.
Subjects and methods: In total, 147,805 patients without malignancy were compared to 13,804 demographically matched patients with malignancy of the upper aerodigestive tract (UADT) by querying the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked database for patients aged 66 to 99 years between 2003 and 2011. The prevalence of ETD and inflammatory diseases among these patients was compared. Association between ETD, other upper aerodigestive inflammatory processes, and UADT malignancies was evaluated.
Results: The prevalence of ETD was 5.44% among patients without malignancy and 9.08% in those with cancer (odds ratio [OR], 1.73; 95% CI, 1.63-1.84). Patients with ETD in the control population were more likely (OR, 95% CI) to be diagnosed with chronic rhinitis (5.00, 4.70-5.33), chronic sinusitis (4.20, 3.98-4.43), allergic rhinitis (4.27, 4.08-4.47), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (2.42, 2.31-2.53). Patients with ETD and chronic rhinitis (1.43, 1.24-1.65), chronic sinusitis (1.57, 1.38-1.78), and acute otitis media (1.33, 1.08-1.65) were associated with higher rates of UADT malignancy.
Conclusion: Over 5% of patients older than 65 in the United States are diagnosed with ETD in the absence of UADT malignancy. Associations between ETD and chronic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, and GERD in the absence of UADT malignancy suggest that some patients may benefit from treatment of inflammatory disease as a cause of ETD.
Keywords: eustachian tube dysfunction; upper aerodigestive tract malignancy.