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I've been suffering with a blocked Eustachian tube in my left ear for a month now, still not gone despite several trips to the Doctors and countless tablets and de congestants.
Has anyone ever had the same problem, if so how long were you off for, and have you any suggestions as to what may help clear it faster? I'm really wanting to get back to work, employer is fine with me being off with this problem, but I'm starting to miss the flying!
Sympathies.....there are loads of threads on hear about blocked ears, problems equalising etc.
I have the same problem and it is looking like it will probably cost me my job. It just won't go away. It doesn't necessarily mean you have an infection either although you will probably have discussed that with your GP. Here are some of the things I tried, although I would suggest you get medical advice BEFORE tying anything else as I am not medically qualified!
Obviously try steam inhalation, that might shift the mucus.
Nasal sprays - Nasonex or Flixonase. Could try a good dose of Otrovine but can only use it for a week I think.
Also, expectorants (e.g. Benadryl) are designed to work on chesty coughs but can also loosen mucus elsewhere.
Drink LOADS of water - if you are well hydrated it can help it run out.
Ear Candles - bit crazy - didn't work for me but you never know.
Herbal remedies to open up the tubes - tried loads but can't remember the names...a good herbalist will help you.
Cut out dairy, alcohol, starchy foods and load up on fruit and veggies....all can create mucus (search for "mucus forming foods" on Google).
Get your GP to do allergy tests and food intolerance tests for the same reason.
A last resort is getting grommets in - ventilation tubes in your eardrum to equalise when your eustachain tube won't...can cause long term hearing loss though so you really need to think hard before embarking on this. Some specialists will say it doesn't but do your research...they will fall out and repeated re-insertion (especially if it is a longer tem grommet or a "t-tube") can leave a permanent hole (perforation) which leads to hearing loss and requires more surgery to repair. Not sure if this repair returns your hearing to normal though.
Your GP can't help - their training only goes as far as glue ear in children and dispensing antibiotics, nasal sprays etc. Go see an ENT specialist.
None of this stuff worked for me but I hope you will have more luck. I am of the opinion that once your tube is blocked, there is very little you can do to clear it. The gunk gets up there and just sits in the tube I'm afraid.
Keep us posted though - good luck. I hope you get back flying soon.
Ennie - how are you getting on? I've been struggling with intermittently blocked eustachian tubes since childhood (I'm now 36).
BTW - to my knowledge, grommets are being pretty much phased out in the UK - there's a more effective treatment which is more invasive medically, but more effective.
When the blockage came back in 2002, my GP went spare with me and said he had no time for smokers, and that the issue would go if I quit cigarattes... I quit smoking (20-a-day) there and then, but the blockage hasn't gone away.
My reason for bumping this discussion is to see if anyone here has tried Endonasal Therapy (try a Google - I don't want to link to commercial sites). Apparently, ET is common practice in the US, and has been very effective for some people, according to reports I've read.
Unfortunately, I can't find anyone in the UK who practices ET, and the US is a fair way to go just to try a 5-minute outpatient's procedure...
Anyone? Blocked tubes are a common issue for those who fly regularly - it could benefit the community here if we can share info and experiences with ET.
I have tried Endonasal Therapy - like you I tried pretty much everybody I could think of in the UK but nobody had ever heard of it let alone practiced it! I tried my GP, an ENT specialist, chiropractors, naturopaths, cranial sacrotherapists......it just goes on and on.....
There is one clinic in the US that does this (in Pennsylvania) and I understand that some chiropractors do it too. The thinking is that you can get gunk building up at the ends of the tubes and it causes them to block. "Sweeping" this gunk away in theory causes the tubes to drain. However, I understand that it is unusual for people to have gunk there in the first place and a good ENT guy should be able to examine the ends of your tubes anyway with one of these long things with a light and camera on the end to check.
It is a very uncomfortable procedure (I read on the web that you can do it yourself but there is NO WAY I could) and involved the guy shoving his finger further back in your throat than you imagine it could ever go and really giving the ends of the tubes a good hammering with his finger.....not pleasant and a bit sore.
It didn't do a thing for me (no gunk) but I suppose if you do have this build up it would be an effective treatment. They also give you peripheral natural treatments designed to improve the lining of your nose but none of it helped me. He also is big on allergy testing to will offer advice about that and food intolerances etc. on the assumption that your problem is to do with allergies (which of course it may not be). Still, it was good to have tried. My ear problem turned out to be to do with a wisdom tooth.
If you are planning to get it done please PM me...you will likely have read about it on the same web site I did and will likely visit the same clinic. I can recommend places to stay, eat etc.... and can give you a complete heads up before you go.....
Have you tried a good physio? I know you're thinking "what?" but there is a large nerve that runs into your head called the Trigeminal nerve - if you have problems with posture, slouching etc. this gets trapped and can cause problems with your tubes amongst other things...also it can give you problems if you have stiff neck muscles etc. for the same reason, all according to a chiropractor and physio I saw once. Also read up on TMJ - the disorder of the jaw joint - the jaw controls the muscles that open and close the ends of your tubes and any imbalances or muscles spasms due to incorrect bite or tension in the jaw muscles apparantly can give you tube problems too.....
Please note though that I'm not medically qualified - all this is just what I have been told and from things I've read...the problems is that there can be soooo many reasons for this condition, you just really need to try stuff to see if it works - it is impossible really to diagnose since your tubes are buried in your head!
Good stuff, Hufty - thanks for posting! It does appear that Endonasal Therapy is popular amongst 'alternative therapists' and for this reason, I'm a tad dubious.
I did think there was a possibility of TMJD, but I asked the dentist last time I had x-rays taken (I had 2 upper wisdom teeth out in the summer - they came through years ago, but had gotten tatty and needed removing) and he gave me the impression my jaw was ok. Is a dentist the right person to ask?
The big irony for me is that I seem to have developed health issues since quitting smoking... The ear blockages have been infinitely worse and I get mild eczema during the winter (have seen top dermatologists about this - they seem to reckon it's not a big deal as it goes away when the weather improves... It's not UV-related btw)
The safest thing to do with smoking is never to start - a truly pointless, miserable and expensive habit.
For double irony, I reckon that if I do have TJMD, there's a good chance it was caused by my use of nicotine gum... I quit smoking overnight, as the doctor terrorised me into thinking I was going to need radical ENT surgery to correct the blockage issue... I recommend the inhalator btw.
I asked my dentist about TMJD and while he had heard of it, he was only really able to recommend a bite guard to stop me grinding at night - a cause of TMJD too so I read. I think dentists are kind of like GPs, they have a broad understanding but not the level of expertise that you need to deal with it. I also spoke to the guy who removed my wisdom tooth (a maxillofacial surgeon) and he stated bluntly that there was no relationship whatsoever between the jaw and the ears!
However, I am seeing a physio (my long term wisdom tooth problem has left me with a painful jaw even though it has now been removed) and she is really big on TMD etc. She reckons it is all about posture - even though your bite and jaw joint might be physically OK, the jaw moves very differently depending on the position of your head (I guess as gravity comes into play). She made me tilt my head all the way to the left and right and bite down - the teeth made contact at different sides depending on the direction you tilt your head. Thus, according to her, the muscles get strained (both jaw and neck) if you're slouching and your head is in the wrong position. She reckons it is all about muscles and nerves. Nail biting, pen chewing etc. can all be factors behind it too plus all the unconscious things you do - I realised that I tended to bite my lower lip a bit - never knew I was doing it till she pointed it out. My jaw joint was fine, but the muscles were either very weak or incredibly tight. She said my swallow reflex was all wrong too and I'm working on that.
It is difficult as there are several disciplines who will claim to help. As far as I understand, a dentist can help with your bite (filing teeth down, removing protruding wisdom teeth etc.) and trying to stop you grinding. A maxillofacial surgeon can operate to rectify a damaged jaw joint. A "neuromuscular dentist" (whatever that is) can apparantly help you with l@ser alignment of your jaw etc. (bit dubious that I reckon) but a good physio can help your body move the way it was designed to do. I have a very different posture now and according to her use a different set (the correct set!) of muscles to move my head. I still find myself slouching and holding my head forward but at least I am aware of it now. I used to sit with the seat reclined at work which made me hold my head forward a bit, but now I sit upright like an elderly woman driving (!) and it is more comfortable. Playing havoc with the flare - my excuse - sticking to it
I get a bit of tinnitus too - I always thought it was due to me going to concerts etc. as a student and noise on the ramp, but she reckons it is partly due to the jaw trouble as the joint is really close to your tubes.
I also get a bit of exczema - still there but better since I cut out dairy. I also drink more water now (being hydrated can help thin out the mucus a wee bit.)
Have you tried nasal and sinus irrigation with salt water? I know this sound a bit odd but it crops up time and time again when you're searching for this kind of advice. I guess it works by cleaning out the nasal passageways - important I suppose as the end of the ET is up there.
Flyin'Dutch' is correct that your doctor shuld be your first port of call but after a while they run out of ideas.
Your family GP, however well-meaning, will look in your ears to check for infection, damage to the drum etc. then suggest decongestants, steam inhalation, anti-inflammatories etc....perhaps antibiotics if he or she think there is an infection. They will also suggest allergy testing etc. but that's about it. "Sorry we can't help you, but if I think of anything I will give you a call." That's what I got.
They may send you to an ENT specialist who will go a bit further but if your ear trouble is a symptom of something else going on, in my experience they won't have the first idea how to treat you. Sorry if that sounds disrespectful to the medical fraternity (and I am sure I will get a response from somebody) but that is the way it is. I wasted months trying all kinds of nasal sprays, surgery etc. I saw several ENT specialists and while it was clear that they were all very highly skilled and knew a great deal about their subject; they all hit a brick wall when it came to treating my ear problem.
I did some reading about the other reasons why you may have trouble with your ears and I uncovered a whole host of additional analysis and treatment options they hadn't told me about. I even mentioned to one ENT guy that I had a sore wisdom tooth and asked if that might be causing it (it was on the same side)......"There is no link whatsoever between your wisdom teeth and your ear trouble" sic. I had it removed anyway and the problem began to clear up. Co-incidence? Of course it could be. I started receiving treatment for poor posture and a sore jaw around the same time so it might be that, but the long term discomfort from the tooth was causing me to grind in my sleep which in turn was putting pressure on the jaw joint. I'm only going by what I am being told but it all makes sense and I am seeing people with a track record of treating these kinds of complaints.
My point is that the medical profession will try and treat your ENT structures to solve an ENT problem. That isn't always the source. I'm not endorsing any methd of treatment (conventional or otherwise) but there can be more going on that you need to investigate for yourself when your doctors run out of ideas.
Warning though, every therapist, doctor etc. will tell you they can treat ear problems. But what they don't know is if they can treat YOUR ear problems.
You could be onto something with the ‘dust mite’ theory. I personally think the eczema is caused by exposure to dust mites (I get it on parts of the skin that are exposed to bedding when I sleep – fortunately, it’s not too visible, quite mild, but annoying).
I wonder if this is a crock: I was told that smoking can ‘mask’ allergies… ??? It does seem odd that I could go for 30 years without skin irritations, and intermittent ET blockage, to quit smoking and find the symptoms virtually permanent…
My GP told me to try Loretadine to rule out allergies. However, I was weary of being on Loretadine long-term, particularly since I work around dangerous machinery, so to be honest, I don’t think I took it for long enough to make a difference to the ET situation (about a month). The GP is good as far as GPs go, but he admits this is not his speciality.
It’s funny that someone would suddenly develop a mite allergy after 30 years of no allergies…
BTW – Ear candling can be very dangerous! I’ve read reports of people getting burnt ear drums from it! I also believe it to be outright new-age quackery – for ET issues, it’s the wrong circuit anyway.
There is quite a bit you can do to reduce your exposure to dust mites....
You can buy these mattress, pillow and quilt protectors that you zip around them to prevent the dust mites getting in. Also vacuuming your mattress and spraying soft furnishings with anti dist mite spray can help. I am told you need to wash things at a highish temperature in order to kill dust mites too.
I removed the carpet from my bedroom recently and even though it was vacuumed regularly and had been professionally cleaned not long ago, it was still bogging!
Your family GP, however well-meaning, will look in your ears to check for infection, damage to the drum etc. then suggest decongestants, steam inhalation, anti-inflammatories etc....
If you do find something better, please let us know!
Whilst I understand your frustrations, it does have to say that the "science" for ent interventions isn't always that robust, and I'm not sure an expert can offer that much more than your GP, although it's likely he'll have access to the scans and investigations required to rule out the nasties.
Try running a search, it's probably one of the most sought after solutions on this forum, and as, yet, I havn't really seen any magical solutions.
I'd be a little cautious consulting non-qualified folk about this very delicate, and important area of anatomy. Ask to see some evidence of effectiveness, other than anecdotal cases studies, and never trust anyone who offers solutions based on pathophysilogy alone- make sure it's tested on a thousand patients first. (A little tongue in cheek perhaps.)
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I saw the GP today. In my totally non-clinical opinion, I reckon he's a good GP.
He reckons there's no problem being on Loretadine long term, so I really should try it for longer than a month this time (he explained why Loretadine is different to other anti-allergy medicines, and it makes sense that it's safe long-term).
He confirmed that smoking *can* mask allergies in theory... Well, I never...
He also reckons it's safe to use nasal inhalers long-term as well. He explained that the steroids are flushed through the body, unlike other steroids (please excuse my vagueness there).
From scanning the forum here, it does appear that it can take a long time to clear a blocked ET. So, current plan is to take Loretadine and Nasal spray for at least 4 months and re-evaluate the situation.
The GP reckoned that blood results for allergies are notoriously vague and suggested to me that, if they were accurate, why is it that many people spend months / years finding out their specific allergy via process of elimination?
Quitting the cigs is for the best long term, but it appears to have made my tube issue worse!
I also intend to drink black coffee now and only use a dash of milk for morning cereal. The words 'straws' and 'clutching' spring to mind... Having said that, this discussion has been of definite assistance - thanks again!
BTW - the most useful treatment I know of is to go for a hard cross-country run -it's temporary, but seems to make a difference, although it could be placebo as a run generates endorphins.
The user above me hit on something at the end of the post, with the running...
I have had blocked eustachian tubes for a while now, and I have smoked up until recently. I also used to blow my nose (with quite a bit of force) until I started to realize what I was doing to myself. I have had a problem with "stones" coming from my tonsils and eustachian tubes, and recently learned that the problem also extended to my sinuses. (My troubles all date back to my one and only massive sinus infection)
Our (human) nasal passages and throat/eustachian tubes empty themselves using the venturi effect, like a carbuerator. They were never meant to be highly pressurized (no hard nose blowing). I have been told all my life to not "suck back" my mucous, but I have recently learned that it is the natural way for my body to cleanse the nose and throat area. As I draw air past the sinuses and eustachian tubes, the material inside of them is drawn out into the major passageways where the airflow is, using the venturi effect.
When I started doing this, I could feel large pieces of solid matter being sucked out of my sinus cavities into my nasal passages, and I could also feel the same occurring for my eustachian tubes in my throat. I could feel the debris as it came out of my nasal passages and eustachian tubes and went down my throat. It also left a slightly offensive taste in most cases.
I found that running and focusing on keeping the air flowing across the openings to my eustachian tubes would almost always cause large amounts of this matter to be flushed. After running I could feel significant liquid drainage from my eustachan tubes. After a while, I got to the point that my ears would tingle from the air flowing past the tubes, and I knew I was definitely on the right track.
I have sworn off nose blowing almost entirely. I have also sworn off anything that stops "runny nose." Why would I want to shut down a part of my immune system? That sounds stupid. In fact, the runny nose that my girlfriends cat gives me has actually helped relieve my ear pains once, while I was "sucking back" the mucous.
Chugging water also has a similar effect on the throat, I've found. I get a large quantity of water and drink, filling out my whole throat and continuously chug the water until I cannot continue any more and this usually also provides a similar type of relief on the eustachian tubes. It makes sense, considering the water is as good or better than air at providing the venturi effect.
I have only quit smoking for a few months, but figuring out how my sinuses and eustachian tubes work has massively expedited my recovery from years of ENT problems. So far, aerobic exercise like running and large mass of water while focusing on drawing past the eustachian tubes are the two largest tools I have found to eliminating my blockage problem.
I think, though, that the very root of my problem is an infection that creates these blockages. I get a feeling that this infection moves about my ENT area. If I have not fully recovered after a year of being cigarette free, I will probably try some antibiotics to help me out.
Who would have thought my interest in high performance engines would lead me to a (very simple) solution for my ENT problem.
I know its sad but its really encouraging to find people with the same sorts of issues....
I had my first sinus infection in April. I had pain in all my sinus's, but the main issue was pressure in my ears which did not shift... I tried blowing my nose for weeks, took thousands of sudafeds, nasal and ear drops and even a short course of antibiotics. Im 36, drink a bit too much and smoked up until about 29.
In the end my GP told me with respect, he didn't have a clue and reffered me to an ENT specialist. (I now have found a GP I respect!). I had a CT Scan which revealed a bent septum and nasal polyps. I had FESS (Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery) 2.5 weeks ago. He removed my septum and the offending Polyps. Im still bleeding now and again and get a minor headache from time to time... But it all seemed worth it.
Up until yesterday my ears and head where my own again.... It was bliss.
Im now sat here with full ear drums trying to blow my ear drums out, only making it worse....Its back.
However I agree with emoo, exercise definatley offers temporary respite. I too crave a runny nose, but only get it when I play football ? I also have not had a cold or flu since April... when all around me seem to have had it 2 or 3 times... It just doesnt seem to get past my sinus's ?
The steam room down the gym also takes the symptoms off for a couple of hours. Im told going on holiday to a warm moist climate is also beneficial. These sorts of issues are few and far between in the jungle apparently?
The other thing I've tried is cutting out sugar from my diet. This does seem to have a positive effect (although I didnt stick at it... its xmas and requires serious will power) but the weight loss is almost instanteanous! There seems an increasing argument about ear / sinus infection and links to candida (IBS and GUT Infection) which can breed fungal infections in the Ear and Nose... The GUT being a major force in your immune system....
I go back to my surgeon in the next couple of days, if nothing else works im removing the sugar (fruits included), taking up running, sleeping on the floor of an oxygen tent and moving to Thailand.....Im so narked off, i'll try anything...
12 years ago, I suffered from this same problem. Visits to many doctors in Nigeria did nothing to help and finally my then-company flew me to Holland to see the company physician (a GP in Holland). he referred me to an ENT specialist who prescribed Nasonex which cured the blockage within minutes. I still have occasional blockage of my left Eustachian tube and always find that an application of Nasonex cures it very quickly
Looks like I've joined the club.... Had an ear infection which appears to have cleared, but finding it impossible to unblock my eustachian tubes. Dr suggested that fluids should clear in 8-12 weeks....oopss... considering I've done just one day with my new employer and spent the next two weeks off sick. Not an impressive start but all have been understanding. Not sure if their goodwill stretches to 12 weeks?
I have had this trouble from time to time but last time the doctor agreed to give me some antibiotic tablets but also suggested a nasal spray Beconase. He suggested spraying lying on my back so that it reaches ' parts other things don't reach '. Sleeping with extra pillows to keep your head higher helps. It can be a lengthy job. Beconase can be bought 'over the counter '.
ahh taken me ages to find a decent place to talk about Eustacian Tube blockages...ill confess upfront im not a pilot, sorry, but have had eust,tube blockage for a solid 4 years now....3 trips to the ENT and countless complimentary therapies later, still blocked up. Actually am off to see the ENT again tommorow, to see what else they can help me with.
Just wondering if others with prolonged blockage get the same bloody horrible symtoms i get ; weird headaches,dizzy spells,the usual 'fullness' in the ears sensation?