asymmetrical tonsil swelling/ unilateral ear pain
Started Christmas Eve I went into the ER because I was feeling obstructed and irritated in the back of my throat on the left side. That has always been my "prone to infection" tonsil, but my throat looked irritated, too. Diagnosed by the PRN on duty with pharyngitis after a strep test came back negative. No meds at this time and within a few days I was no longer bothered by this. Followed up w/ my PCP 12/29 only I had a muscle strain in my ribs giving me much more grief so that was my concern and she didnt look at my tonsils only said the lab results from the ER confirmed the quick strep test was negative. I started feeling irritated again around the 14th found an ENT and made an appt. In the meantime I went back to the ER with major stress/concern over what this could be....this time my left tonsil is noticeably larger than the right, noticeable even for me and I'm used to the left being bigger than the right. The ER Doc asked if I had came in because I was worried I had cancer (I am a smoker for 10 years trying currently to stop again) I told him of course I was worried and in pain please don't patronize me! I was diagnosed with an inner ear infection, given a 7-day treatment of Keflex. This doesnt feel like anything I've had before...referred ear pain just on this left side, pretty severe headaches, throat pain not intolerable just annoyingly kind of warm. Saw ENT who off the bat recommended tonsillectomy, said it "doesn't look like lymphoma" (good, right?), gave me 6-day methylprednisolone, and said follow up in two weeks. I'm done with the meds, pain is coming back, I don't know what's wrong with me and am not totally sure about this surgery (they wouldnt do it when I was a kid, why now?) Any suggestions on obtaining an accurate diagnosis would be awesome.
As a side: I can't really tell what lymph nodes feel like. The area in my neck directly underneath my tonsils...I'm guessing the internal continuation of them...is larger and firmer on the left side where I am experiencing the pain. But this is large on both sides and feels relatively symmetrical. I understand lymph nodes are supposed to be small...less then an inch in diam. and I'm not finding any swollen or hard lumps in my neck. Good sign I hope. Also I am chewing nicotine gum in lieu of smoking. I know nicotine is an oxidant, but I have to think this is a better alternative to smoking.
Update 1/28: Going to go ahead an go through with the surgery, probably going to take place 2/11. Saw my PCP yesterday (former PCP I think) and was told in no compassionate or considerate way that there is absolutely nothing she can do to help me get diagnosed, get peace of mind, or get out of pain in the interim. She also informed me that I was probably unable to quit smoking right now due to the amount of stress and concern I was/am feeling, and that I would probably fail. Therefore there is nothing she can do about anything, its all up to my ENT. Real reassuring, right? I'm doing ok down to no more than 2 cigs in a whole day and plan to cease totally no less than a week before this operation. I suppose at this point I am just venting frustration, for I do feel slightly better and without crying and freaking myself out I forget about the pain for prolonged periods of time. I keep reading about tests physicians order for their patients, either as formalities before surgery, as diagnostic indicators, or simply for the patient's peace of mind in ruling out some conditions (like CT's, MRI's, bloodwork...seemingly typical, routine stuff) so I am wondering was my doctor just being intolerant not wanting to help? She said none of these would do any good, wouldn't tell her anything about my condition. Or am I seriously overreacting here? People at the ENT's office are nice and when I go back on 2/3 I'll be asking all these questions.
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