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Left ear clogged for the past two months
An_250070 posted:
In mid-November, my son came down with a virus (vomiting, fever, congestion, coughing, sore throat etc...). About a week later, I came down with something similar. I woke up with a horrible laryngitis type sore throat. Strep had been going around, so perhaps that is what I had (though, I've had this before and after a throat swab I was negative for strep, and the doc said it was "viral laryngitis). Anyhow, my throat hurt really bad, I had congestion, and my ears closed up, etc....

My right ear eventually opened up, and it is fine. But two months later, my left ear is still muffled. When I do the valsalva manuever, I can get BOTH ears to open without a problem, and I also feel both close after I swallow. But my left ear continues to feel full. It feels like there is a bubble in there that needs to be if I could just swallow the right way, then maybe I would feel something "pop" and I could hear again.

So I went to one ENT. She looked in my ear with the more advanced scope and said I had clear fluid behind my ear drum. She had me see the audiologist, and they said my hearing was fine. They gave me prednisone and fluticasone. I left feeling hopeful, but after finishing the meds.....nothing had changed. I tried pseudoephedrine with Mucinex and Claritin....still nothing has changed.

So last week I went to a different ENT. He had me tested by the audiologist. She said I had very, very, very minimal hearing loss. Then I met with the ENT. He looked in my ear, but not with the same advanced "scope" that the previous ENT had used (this was just a hand held tool). He said that I did not have any fluid in my ear, and then said I have Otosclerosis.

I don't feel comfortable with his diagnosis. It seems off to me, given that this only began after I had been quite sick for a week, and extremely congested. I'm pretty sure I have mucous stuck in my ear (though why it won't come out this time is a mystery to me.....I've never had it stuck in there like this before). The only thing different in my life is that we live in a new city that is famous for it's cedar allergies, we got a cat, and we recently pulled up carpet. Perhaps these things have led to me having middle ear fluid issues that I did not have earlier in my life.

I went to this second ENT with the hopes that perhaps he could get the mucous out. But instead, he claims there is no fluid behind my eardrum, and gives me this diagnosis of Otosclerosis. He did ask me if I had a family history of hearing loss. My answer was "yes".....but not because of Otosclerosis. When my dad was 61, he had an Ischemic Stroke. It was determined that the blood clot was in the ear area of his brain. He lost most of his hearing in one ear after having this stroke, and was told it would never come back because the temporary lack of blood flow to the nerves caused permanent hearing damage.

So that is my "family history" of hearing loss, which to me is not the same as a family history of Otosclerosis. Any thoughts on this? I may return to the first ENT I saw. I would be willing to have surgery just to get his fluid out.....the muffled hearing is driving me crazy. I feel like I am hearing through a tunnel. The feeling is the same as when I have a cold with a congested ear (which I have read is different than the feeling one gets from hearing loss brought on by Otosclerosis).
Rod Moser, PA, PhD responded:
Otosclerosis? Otosclerosis is an inherited ear condition where a bony overgrowth occurs in the middle ear, fusing the tiny ear bones, and/or inner ear structures causing nerve damage. Most people with otosclerosis experience one- or both-sided hearing loss in early adulthood. It is more common in Caucasian women under the age of 50. Treatment is with surgery or hearing aids. Based on the limited information in your posting, this would seem like a stretch to make that call on a quick examination.

The first ENT was treating you for chronic ETD (Eustachian Tube Dysfunction); not an easy thing to fix, incidentally. ETD can be very frustrating. I tend to lean that this is your problem, but of course, I am only making a blind guess based on your posting.
canthear2013 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Thank you so much for your reply. I will follow up with the first ENT, and hopefully get some relief. I have one last quick question. This one is embarrassing, as I fear I may have done something incredibly stupid to my ears.

Not long after the ear infection started, I tried to open up my Eustachian tubes. When I did the Valsalva manuever, I could get the right side to open, but not the left. This went on for a week or so. Finally, in a fit of desperation, I tried a technique I saw online where you tilt your head back while spraying Afrin into your nose (with the hopes of getting into your E-tubes). Well, it worked....and it burned like living hell. My e-tube did open after than, and has continued to open ever since. But still muffled hearing/full feeling in my ear.

Did the Afrin screw up my hearing? I've passed two audiologist tests, but still have the full/muffled hearing issue (even though I can get my e-tubes to open very easily now). I guess I'm worried that getting Afrin in my inner ear could've caused permanent damage. I hope I'm overreacting!