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Is my eardrum REALLY perforated?
ashleyba89 posted:
Hi there, I have never used this site before but I am getting super frustrated with my ears! A little history. I have always had ear problems. Since I was about 12 years old (I am 23 now) I have had a problem with wax buildup in my areas. About every 3-4 months, I have to go to my general doctor and have him syringe the earwax out. It is pretty gross. I usually have big chunks of earwax come out of my ear. I will admit I am bad about sticking q-tips in my ears. About a week and a half ago, while taking a shower, I felt like I had water stuck in my ear. I grabbed a qtip and barely stuck it in my ear, but I think I must have pushed wax into the canal because it felt "clogged." I have been out of town away from my doctor and knew I could not see my doctor for 2-3 weeks and I had a ton to do so I kept trying with the q-tip to get the wax out. It just got worse and worse. I then tried hydrogen peroxide (Which my doctor has told me is safe) in BOTH ears (because the other has felt slightly clogged for a few weeks now) and no change. I decided to go to the Minute Clinic in CVS since I could not see my doctor. This lady BARELY looked in my ears, but said that my left ear had a white substance (which is weird because I have had ZERO drainage..) and diagnoses me as "ottis media with perforation". She gave me cipro ear drops (for 7 days) and a 10 day prescription for ammoxicilin.

I just finished the 10 day ammoxicilion today and my hearing has NOT gotten better. & Now my other ear feels full (I swear I have stuck NOTHING down this ear so I know it can't be perforated). The PA at Minute Clinic said that ear was about half full of wax but did not bother cleaning it out. I have made an appointment to see my doctor Monday (when I return home) and I am sure he can irrigate my right ear but I am worried about my left ear. If I had an infection, why has it not gotten any better after 10 days of antibiotics? Also, I have looked up the symptoms of a perforated eardrum and I have none except the hearing loss. I have had no drainage and there was no pain whatsoever. I do have some ringing in the ears (both) but I also experience that when my ears are clogged with wax. Also, I understand an infection can lead to a perforated eardrum but if I did perforate my eardrum with the q-tip, would this lead to an infection and so soon? I was messing with the q-tip on a tuesday nigh and saw minute clinic on Wednesday afternoon.. that seems fast for an infection to develop. I am freaking out to because my wedding is in 2 months and I need hearing!!! I am wondering if there is any chance maybe this PA didn't see wax in the left ear and that is all it is??? It feels just like it does when its clogged and these meds are helping!
Rod Moser, PA, PhD responded:
I have been looking into ears for over four decades. While I have no way of looking at your ears over the Internet, I would guess that (a) you never really had an infection, and (b) you just had a wax impaction from the very beginning. Unless a medical providers cleans out your ear -- usually a curette is used in the office setting or a warm water lavage -- there is no way to know if your eardrum was perforated or if you even had a middle ear infection. You have to see it, and a wax impaction prevents the examiner from making that call. I suspect that diagnosis was just a guess.

You need to STOP USING Q-TIPS in your ear. You are the one causing the wax impactions by shoving it against your eardrums. Ear wax is NORMAL and a protective coating for the ear canal and should not be removed. If you are a person who makes a bit too much earwax, you can safely irrigate it out yourself if you haven't packed in solid with Q-tips. You can spend a hundred bucks or so and by an video otoscope so you can look in your own ears.
ashleyba89 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Thank you! You were 100% correct. I saw my regular doctor day (bless him for squeezing me in) and you were right. They GUESSED my diagnosis. I told my doctor that the PA said I had a perforated eardrum and he laughed and said "I wonder how she managed to see what when there is so much wax I can't even see your eardrum." He cleaned out my ears and what do you know, I can hear again. He told me I would most likely know if I perforated my ear drum. There is usually pain and drainage associated neither of which I had. Last time I bother with minute clinic, I need to trust only doctors!!
Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to ashleyba89's response:
I am glad you finally got a correct answer, Ashley, and that your hearing has been "miraculously" restored. Thanks for the update.

Did you throw those Q-tips away yet?

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