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Undiagnosed Ear Problems
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Aries22 posted:
Hi,

So, I will try and make this as brief as I can... Well, 8 months ago I bent down to pick up a laundry basket and when I came back up my left ear felt full, as if I had gone under water and it plugged. I'm in my Twenties, never had an ear or sinus issue, and had not been sick in over 2 years. When I woke up the next morning with no improvement I decided to see my family physician. Through conversation and briefly looking in my ear, which looked completely healthy, I was diagnosed with eustachian tube dysfunction. I took prednisone and antibiotics for one week and had little to no improvement. After 6 weeks of uncomfortable pressure and muffled hearing I went to an ENT. He spoke with me and looked in my ear and decided the original diagnosis was likely still the problem. I was prescribed Flonase and told to wait it out as these things take time.
After 5 full months with clogging becoming off and on throughout each day, I felt that perhaps things were improving. And then the ringing began. I was terrified, still am. As if ringing wasn't enough then an overwhelming heartbeat sensation began to appear in my ear as well, a week before every menstrual cycle. So hormones?!?
Another trip to the ENT 6 months in... I had a hearing test, typanometry, tested the nerve, had the scope through the nose, blood work, and finally MRI. And after all that time and money we found Nothing!!! My hearing was better than normal, blood test perfect, and Dr. said and I quote, "Your ears in appearance look and appear to be immaculate." This would be great to hear if I didn't feel awful everyday!!!
Here we are at month 8, since the last visit I have developed similar milder symptoms (minus the heartbeat) in my right ear as well!! In my right ear, however,I have developed noise sensitivity to somewhat loud noises, once again the week before menstrual cycle. The Dr. says it must be a perception problem. He gave me no further instruction, no refferal, no hope. : ( Could this all be hormones, an inner ear disorder, maybe TMJ? Will this ever go away?!?
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD responded:
You have seen one ENT and have one opinion, yet you are continuing to have a frustating array of symptoms; now in both ears. I think it is more than just perception and I am sorry that a reason or a solution could not be found. As you may know, if you do have a problem in the inner ear, these are notoriously difficult to evaluate. The inner ear cannot be seen on a routine exam,and the problem could be at the microscopic/cellular levels -- far beyond the ability for an MRI to even see.

Hormones could be contributory, but not likely the sole cause. I would not think that TMJ would be causing all of your symptoms, so I am thinking "inner ear".

I think you should see a neurotologist (an neurologist/ENT combination), even if you have to fly/drive to a larger city or medical facility to find one. This is not going to be an easy diagnosis, but taking it up a notch in your evaluation is very appropriate now.
 
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Aries22 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Thank you very much for your response. I know of course you can only give advice since you can't evaluate us over the computer, but does anything come to mind to you that this could be? I know it would be merely educated speculation.I'm terrified and googling symptoms of course leaves you more scared and confused.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to Aries22's response:
Medical providers don't like to guess or speculate...

Instead of stressing out by trying to self-diagnose over the Internet based on symptoms alone, get that second opinion, perhaps at a large, university-based medical center ENT department.
 
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Aries22 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Thank you again for your time and advice it is greatly appreciated.


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