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Please help me! Blocked ears.
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EmilyLouise1234 posted:
Hi,

I am currently suffering from the common cold, it started around 14 days ago and got more severe over the weekend. Yesterday I noticed my hearing in my left ear was slightly muffled, thinking it was just earwax I put a few drops of warmed olive oil in the ear and it has made the whole thing worse. I went to the doctors yesterday and the GP looked in my ear and said that my eardrum looks a normal colour (grey), what she could see of it, and that there was quite a lot of wax but it looked quite moist. She prescribed me antibiotic ear drops as she said I had some slight redness in my ear. This morning I have woken up and it has got even worse with a constant ringing noise and I can't hear anything out of it except robotic noises. To make matters worse, I have quite a lot of wax in my right ear which is making it difficult to hear at all.

In January I got two ear infections at the same time in both ears, which resulted in almost complete deafness for around a month. It cleared after a course of antibiotics and constant check up's with an ENT specialist.

I've booked another doctors appointment for tomorrow morning to get a second opinion. However, I am due to fly next Tuesday (10th) and I cannot cancel the flight, I am flying for 11 hours on a 3 week holiday which has cost me over £3,000 and I cannot cancel it.

I am currently using: saline nasal spray (home-made), sudafed, vicks with boiling water and inhaling it, anti-histamines and anti-biotic ear drops.

What advice can you give me? I'm freaking out because I only have 7 days to go until I get on a plane. I'm sure this ear blockage is related to my cold and the fact that I've been blowing my nose quite severely. Could it be a wax problem? Or is it case of fluid getting into my middle ear?

Thanks!
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD responded:
If your doctor actually saw your eardrum and described it as "grey", then you did not have a wax impaction at the time of your visit. Because you put oil in your ear, this can liquify wax and pack it against your eardrum when you sleep on your side. Unfortunately, I have no way of examining your ears over the Internet to know if this happened.

Middle ear infection can occur in hours. An otitis externa can worsen (an infection in your ear canal - perhaps the reason your doctor gave you eardrops). Eustachian tube dysfunction can worsen as well. I am pleased that you are seeing a medical provider tomorrow, since this is really the ONLY way to know the current state of your ears. Whether you can safely fly or not would be up to your medical provider to decide.

I cannot offer you any specific advice because I can't examine your ears, provide a diagnosis (or diagnoses...you may have more than one problem), so just stick with what your are doing now and hope for the best.

Let me know what your doctor finds and don't leave that office unless you know you DIAGNOSIS and the rationale for any treatment that is recommended. Then, we can discuss it.....
 
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EmilyLouise1234 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Hi Rod,

Thank you for your reply.

My symptoms have worsened today and I find myself barely being able to hear at all. Right now I can't even hear myself typing on the keyboard. Everything sounds strangely robotic and I can hear high pitched noises really loudly.

Went back to the doctors today and saw a different one. She advised me that my eardrum was slightly red and that she believes the reason my hearing has gone is because I have trapped fluid behind my eardrum due to this cold. She has prescribed me 7 days worth of strong anti-biotics (Clarithromycin) and told me to use a decongestant nasal spray (Otrivine) and said that I should start to feel the difference in 48 hours.

I'm still very worried about flying and also not sure whether I should carry on using the eardrops I was given just a precautionary measure. If my hearing isn't improved by the weekend I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to cancel my holiday.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to EmilyLouise1234's response:
The eardrops will not help a middle ear infection, assuming this is the reason for the antibiotic, nor will it help with changes in outside pressure. Fluid does not automatically resolve in 48 hours, or with an antibiotic...it either must drain or be slowly reabsorbed over time.

One question: If you pull on your outer ear, or push firmly on your tragus (the flap of skin directly in front of your ear canal opening), it is painful?
 
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EmilyLouise1234 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
No. It's not painful at all. My only problem is lack of hearing. I'm going to the hospital today and I'm going to demand to see an ENT specialist as I'm very scared of not being able to fly.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to EmilyLouise1234's response:
If it doesn't hurt to move your outer ear or push on the tragus, then you do not likely have a problem in the ear canal where eardrops would be helpful.

Good luck on your visit to the hospital. I hope you are able to see an ENT just be demanding it. Most hospitalis (I don't know where you live) do not have ENTs standing around waiting to see patients.
 
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EmilyLouise1234 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Hi Rod,

Managed to see an ENT doctor today at the hospital. He micro-suctioned both of my ears and said that I had quite a lot of discharge in both. He said my left ear canal is fine but the eardrum looks red so he believes I have a middle ear infection - he said to continue taking my anti-biotics to treat it. He suctioned the right ear as well and said that the eardrum looks normal but my ear canal is slightly swollen, he prescribed a nasal decongestant (because of my cold) and a different ear drop with anti-biotics and steroids in.

He said I will be fine flying but I'm still worried. Is there any chance I could permanently lose my hearing if I get on that plane? Thanks for the advice so far.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to EmilyLouise1234's response:
You did! Excellent job being assertive.

No, it is not very likely you will have a permanent loss of your hearing simply from flying. It is possible that a rapid change in pressure could rupture your eardrum, but this is not as serious as it sounds. A ruptured eardrum is just Nature's way of dealing with this pressure, and the vast majority of eardrums will heal in a few weeks. If you do rupture your eardrum, it will most likely bleed and have drainage, but any pain (due to the pressure) would quickly resolve since the rupture would equalize pressure. No swimming in a river, lake, or ocean if this happens!

What kind of antibiotic are you taken and where are you flying to and from?
 
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EmilyLouise1234 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Would I be able to hear properly with a ruptured eardrum?

I am flying from London, England to San Diego on Tuesday, it's an 11 hour flight, and then 3 weeks later I am flying from Las Vegas to London, England, around 9 hours.

I'm just so nervous that my entire trip will be ruined because of my ears. I'm going to a convention in San Diego and the fact that I won't be able to hear anything is scaring me. That and getting on a plane and not being able to equalise the pressure in my ears.
 
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EmilyLouise1234 replied to EmilyLouise1234's response:
Also the antibiotics I am on are called Klaricid because I'm allergic to penicillin.
 
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EmilyLouise1234 replied to EmilyLouise1234's response:
Also, I think it's important to mention that I have been hearing high-pitched noises very loudly, almost painfully. I have had to cover my ears when my mum has been vacuming the house and the sound of children crying is almost unbearable. But I'm also struggling to hear low tones, I can't hear music properly because it's all distorted and robotic. I have noticed my left ear is becoming more clear, I can now hear myself typing on the keyboard but only faintly. I'm slightly worried that the noise of the airplane will be unbearable to my ears. Thank you so much for your help and advice so far.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to EmilyLouise1234's response:
If your eardrum does rupture, your hearing may be temporarily diminished. The amount of hearing loss depends on the location and size of the rupture on the eardrum.

I think you are worrying too much....enjoy your trip. You have the okay from an ENT, and for the vast majority of flyers -- even those with middle ear infections or fluid in the middle ear -- there are no adverse problems.

I am not familiar with the name of your antibiotic since they change depending on the country.
 
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EmilyLouise1234 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Thank you Rod, you have really helped put my mind at ease. I'm going to try and get into the holiday mood this weekend. I will let you know how it goes when I get to America. Again, thank you so much.
 
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EmilyLouise1234 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
The general name for the anti-biotic I'm on is Clarithromycin FYI.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to EmilyLouise1234's response:
Las Vegas is so noisy and unbelievably HOT that you may not notice your tinnitus. Clarithromycin is an appropriate antibiotic....I hope it helps.


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