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Thread: Eustachian tube dysfunction - please help!!!

  1. #1
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    Eustachian tube dysfunction - please help!!!

    Has anyone ever had a condition where the eustachian tubes in their ears had trouble regulating pressure to the point that the tubes would swell and actually alter your hearing? I've been suffering with this condition for a while now. Some days are worse than others and it is definitely a condition that seems to be effected by allergies and colds. I am having a devil of a time getting rid of this. I was placed on a pretty heavy duty oral steroid to try and reduce the inflammation and it essentially did nothing. I've had this in the past and usually the steroids clear up the problem but for some reason it isn't clearing up this time. So far all traditional methods have failed to alleviate this problem.

    I'm hoping someone else out there has had to deal with this at some point and if so, any alternative therapies that you know of would certainly be appreciated. So far my treatment has consisted of medication. There is the possibility of surgery where they would insert a tube in my ear, but being a musician, I'm really concerned about any surgery to my ear. Also, I have this condition in only 1 ear (which, let me tell you makes this condition 10 times more annoying to deal with)

    I'm sure as musicians you can all appreciate that to hear noises coming into one ear at one pitch and the other ear at a pitch about a 1/2 to a whole step down is supremely annoying. When this condition is really severe it starts to throw off my balance and equillibrium. At this point I'm ready to try just about anything. Witch doctors, leaches, ....you name it!

    There would be no better christmas present for me this year than to get rid of this condition once and for all. Any help any of you can offer would be appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
    www.jakehanlon.com Jakeweiser's Avatar
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    that sucks man... I cannot give any advice only sympathise

    I know when I am sick (as I am right now... THANKS JOSH) that my playing goes straight down the tubes because I cannot hear anything that I can translate. THe combination of congestion with the feeling of illness makes me not enjoy playing the instrument and for me when I am forced to do something on the guitar I generally do not get anything out of it.

    Such is life, we must struggle through, everyone gets sick. I think it is ironic that I was fine all semester until the day of my Guitar final to get this g'damn cold.

    There must be some sort of herbal route you can take to clear up your problem. I don't like any kind of surgery and avoid it whenever possible for many reasons. Go to a local health food store, herbal yayaya stuff and see what they suggest.
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    Yea, I wind up plugging up my one ear in order to play guitar because the sound difference between my ears can be maddening (like scratching your nails on a chalkboard). The swelling in the ear also makes it very sensitive to loud or high pitched sounds. It is a very frustrating problem. It gets to the point where I would rather plug up the ear and not hear out of it when this condition flares up.

    The health food/herbal holistic store isn't a bad idea for a start. The funny thing about the problem is that it apparently isn't all that uncommon and is something that seems to effect people in certain regions of the US. I'm not from Pittsburgh, but according to my doctor, this problem is extremely common in that area. I've noticed since I've had this problem that there are a number of other people in my area that suffer with the same thing from time to time. It is a problem that comes and goes, but sometimes it lingers for days, weeks, months. And then all of a sudden, it will just spontaneously go away! I think it seems to react to atmospheric pressure changes. When the barometric pressure changes it seems to have an effect on the condition.

    I just figured if there were others with this issue they may have had success with certain procedures other than surgery (chiropractic treatment, accupuncture, etc...) I'm very reluctant to go the surgery route but this latest episode has lasted at least 2 1/2 months.

  4. #4
    Jazz Artist, Author EdByrne's Avatar
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    Hombre,

    Please see several other specialists about this right away. It IS amazing how often one needs to do this before finding a physician who knows the correct diagnosis. It sounds much too serious to mess with--and needs to be addressed immediately. Don't be patient, and don't try to heal yourself. That's my two cents. I hope you find the answer forthwith.

  5. #5
    Guitar edrowland's Avatar
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    I had my adenoids removed when I was about 5. (The flaps at the end of the Eustacian tube). I understand, vaguely, that this is no longer the surgery choice for this condition. But I've never had problems with it since.

    That didn't help a bit, did it?

  6. #6
    Oppressed into submission jazzbluescat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Hombre View Post
    .... I've had this in the past and usually the steroids clear up the problem but for some reason it isn't clearing up this time. So far all traditional methods have failed to alleviate this problem.

    .... Thanks.
    Sounds like you've just built-up an immunity to that particular steroid, another steroid, possibly in the same family, might do the trick. ['Course I'm sure your doctor would have thought of that.... Sorry, can't help.]
    A lot of good arguments are ruined by some fool who knows what he's talking about.

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    ...but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night

    Having had chronic hearing problems, stapes bone replacements etc, I know there are otolaryngology chat rooms; you will find sympathetic people, conflicting opinions and sources of information there.

    Chances of finding someone there who knows the changes to Oleo are not very good but probably better than finding your solution here.

    Best bet is to see an otolaryngologist.

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    I'm not sure if it's the same thing or not, but I've had a similar problem. The middle ear begins to fill with fluid, and if let go, becomes a middle ear infection. The hearing is definitely affected, and it's really annoying. I used to get a course of antibiotics to clear it, but then found large doses of vitamin C to act as an anti-inflammatory. 3 or 4 grams is what I'm talking about.

    Your problem sounds perhaps a little different, but I can only report that this is what proved effective for me, maybe worth a try?

    As far as finding help with a specialist, maybe yes.. maybe not. You'll need to do as Ed suggests, I think. Talk to several. I had surgery years ago to correct this issue. The diagnosis was, the whole 'plumbing' system of my ears/nose was messed up. I had a septoplasty, and the surgeon explained it would simiar to fileting a fish. "We'll go in, and just take some off of each side, that will open up the passages, and allow it to drain better."

    The surgery made utterly no difference whatsoever.
    Last edited by scarpia; December 14th, 2006 at 10:42 AM. Reason: additional information

  9. #9
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    scarpia, it is actually a different problem.

    I've had fluid in my ears, "swimmer's ear", inner ear infections, and this is more of a sinus pressure/allergy problem. It has finally resolved thanks to "sudafed" of all things (at least I hope that it has 'finally' resolved!). I've been on just about every allergy medicine and on steroids in the past and recently and plain old sudafed cleared it up within days. Go figure. A local doctor friend of mine said he sees patients in this area all the time with this condition and over-the-counter sudafed has the best results with this kind of condition. You have to get the original sudafed though. Not the stuff on the shelf. Most pharmacies have taken the original sudafed off of the shelves and now keep it behind the counter because it is apparently a main ingredient in producing meth.

  10. #10
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    etd and playing again

    Hi. I read about your problem. Hope my advice helps you. I started having problems with etd after a sinus infection last year. After many trips to my GP, an allergist, naturopath/chiropractor and two different ENTs, I finally hit on a winning combination. The third ENT I went to was able to help me. She put me on a regimen of no dairy products (can aggravate ETD big time) and a few courses of Atrovent nasal spray. She also told me to do the valsalva maneuver (pinching the nose shut and gently blowing to pop the eardrums open and release the pressure) up to 20 times a day to train the eustachian tubes to do what they're supposed to do. I now only have to use the Atrovent on an as needed basis, which hasn't been since early Sept. 2006. Also, I take 500 mg. of evening primrose oil daily to help deal with inflammation.
    The instrument I play is the bass clarinet.

  11. #11
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    I didn't realize that dairy products could aggravate the condition to such a great extent. The ear popping technique has helped me as well. I feel sorry for anyone who ever has to suffer with this condition. It is supremely annoying, especially if you are a musician. I'm glad it appears to have run its course.

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