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Successful treatment of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and/or TMJ?

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Old 11-05-2011, 07:12 PM   #1
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msMarieC HB User
Successful treatment of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and/or TMJ?

I'm curious to know whether there are others out there whose chronic eustachian tube dysfunction has resolved. If so, what worked for you? I'm particularly interested in knowing whether there is anyone for whom TMJ treatment resolved symptoms of ETD. Also, if you were treated for TMJ, what were some of your related ETD symptoms?

I have had and continue to have the following symptoms at various times (never all at once) and to varying degrees:

* ear pressure

* feeling like there are small air bubbles squeezing through Eustachian tubes when driving (pressure equalization issues, I guess, when ascending/descending even the slightest hill)

* Cold sensation in Eustachian tubes, sometimes a distinct cold fluid-like feeling

* general clogged, sticky sensation behind eardrums, almost a dry tightness

* crackling/popping when swallowing or yawning (not jaw related) [This is one symptom that never abates.]

* pain below ears, straight down front of neck, through Sternocleidomastoid muscles

* pain behind ears, near the mastoid

* facial tiredness/soreness but no 'joint' or other muscle tenderness

* cervical neck pain

All of this began, for me, after being treated for an outer ear infection which presented as a tickle in my right ear. The Dr. said my eardrum looked a little red and thought maybe I had a slight fungal infection, so prescribe neomycin. It was while taking the neomycin that everything changed. Ear felt like it was burning hot, plugged, and in a vice grip. Aching pain moved behind and across the nape of my neck until I had the same weird feeling in my left ear. Eustachian tubes closed, had some eardrum retraction, but a few months later they began to open. External diagnostic tests indicate the ears are now fine, yet my symptoms are not improving; rather, they're changing, becoming more variable. Makes me wonder if it might be TMJ instigated by muscular tension brought on by inflammation associated with the ear issue.

Ideas? If you have had ETD, TMJ, or SCM Syndrome, please share your experience, and especially solutions.

p.s.: No tinnitus or dizziness. No autophony either, but am unsure whether issues are due to hyper-patent eustachian tubes or typical ETD.

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Old 11-17-2011, 12:35 PM   #2
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Re: Successful treatment of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and/or TMJ?

Hi Ms Marie,

Sorry to hear the problem is still ongoing. I'm still fighting the good fight, as they say. With some days being worse than others. Had a couple good days with minimal symptoms, then standing outside last night under a canopy talking to friends during a rainstorm caused both ears to block and they are still feeling heavy, congested, and tight today, with a lumpy feeling in the throat.

I consulted with my regular dentist who knows about my earlier TMJ diagnosis, and he felt that if my mouth guard wasn't helping calm the ears and facial muscles down, that I should consult a new TMJ clinic and start again from square one. *sigh* My night guard makes my ears feel worse, not better, so I am not motivated to use it.

I really think my ETD is actually a constellation of problems that just finally caused the perfect storm: allergies plus stress and facial trigger points and/or TMJ putting a lot of pressure on the tiny area that controls e-tube function. I get a really intensive round of allergy testing on the 29th, and will report back what I learn. The hope is immunotherapy will at least address the allergy component, because exposures to certain weather conditions and mold/mustiness does seem to create swelling/itching/e-tube problems for me, and then my face tenses up with stress, and then I get myoclonus twitching and tinnitus. It's a complicated, circular mess.

I wonder how Dlt is doing post-surgery??

I had my records forwarded to Dr. Poe in Boston as a sort of last-resort hope. He's not seeing new patients until at least April of next year. I had hoped my issues would be resolved by then. Next month on the 18th, it will be one year for me.

Old 12-08-2011, 09:13 PM   #3
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Re: Successful treatment of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and/or TMJ?

Hi Jenni,

My ears are showing ongoing improvement, but they're still funky, not normal. Did I mention that I'm no longer experiencing the horrendous neck and facial pain since going off of caffeine? Still wondering about the TMJ connection. My ETD began in spring 2011 and around midsummer I developed a faint clicking of the jaw when talking, but I think that was caused from flexing the muscles around that area to open the ETs constantly! As you know, that kind of repeated flexing generates a lot of tension, which in turn affects nearby muscles. What a complex circle. It's the proverbial conundrum: "chicken or the egg?"

Let me know what you notice, if anything, with your allergy shots. Forgot to mention, I'll be flying next week, the first time since this all began! I'm so nervous. I don't have PET tubes, so I'm hoping my ETs equalize properly and that I won't end up feeling worse. Dreading it. But I guess I've got to fly eventually. :/

Best wishes,
Anne Marie

Old 12-09-2011, 10:58 AM   #4
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Re: Successful treatment of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and/or TMJ?

Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to give you all an update about my eustachian tube problems (particularily with the right ear giving me troubles.) Two months ago I went to an ENT doctor who recommended holding off on surgery involving the insertion of tubes in the ears as well as holding off on an adenoidectomy, stating that even though there was some "residual adenoid tissue" on the right side, it wasn't blocking the eustachian tube. The ENT doctor recommended I continue to take daily Allegra along with Dexacort nasal spray which iIve been taking for the past two months.

My symptoms have not cleared up, but there has been noted improvement in the intensity of my symptoms. I don't feel as much pressure in my ear than in previous months. I haven't noticed as much aural fullness in my ear than in previous months. The tinnitus in my ear isn't as loud and distracting as before.

I go back for a follow up appointment with the ENT doctor next week. I'm happy that there's an improvement with my symptoms. However, allergy testing back in August found me to be allergic to grass pollen and dust, so I wonder whether my symptoms will get worse again in the Spring ( a well known allergy season).

Anne Marie, I understand about the hesitation in flying with ETD. Before my ear troulbles began in late February of this year, I had booked a cruise for the Memorial Day Holiday, which meant I needed to fly out for the cruise. In order to insure that my symptoms wouldn't get worse than they already were at that time, i took a decongestant before the flight and chewed gum on the plane. When taking these measures, my ears popped at the appropriate times and I didn't experience any pain in my ears in flight. Before this flight, my hearing was already alittle muffled due to the pre-existing ETD. However, there was no worsening of muffled hearing after the flight. I'll be flying out to see family for the Holidays in a couple weeks and hope that the flight goes smoothly with my ears. i'll probably take a decongestant beforehand along with chewing gum on the plane, just like I did for my past flights around Memorial Day as a precaution.

It hasn't been until the past several months where becoming aware of my ear health has been so important.


Old 12-13-2011, 10:11 AM   #5
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Re: Successful treatment of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and/or TMJ?

I'm finally being treated for underlying allergy disease...this right as I reach my ETD's one year anniversary (Dec 18th).

Recently I was extensively allergy-tested (not the simple scratch test which is not very edifying, but intradermal testing that lasts about 2 1/2 hours). I was found to be allergic to every local grass, mold, weed, and tree that they test for, as well as dust mites, dust, and cotton linter, whatever that is. My allergy apparently has chosen the ears as its target. For some people, it's the lungs, or the skin, or the sinuses. For me, ears. This may explain the mystery ear infections I've had only as an adult and only after moving to the Pacific Northwest. Of course, if you are genetically susceptible to allergy, it can start at any age...I can't really blame the region.

I am on maximum medical therapy for it, including a new allergy med (xyzal), two nasal sprays, saline rinse, trigger avoidance, and weekly shots. It seems to be finally easing the misery...and it also helps that allergy season is mostly dormant once it begins to freeze!

I flew once before I had pe tubes. I did the whole "flying with eustachian tube dysfunction" protocol that can be found through google on numerous ENT sites. I also wore Earplanes. I can't say the flight worsened my symptoms. This was last February, and I was in pretty bad shape overall. I do like the assurance that comes with having the pe tubes now, as I have to fly again on Sunday. But I am not sure I would recommend them just for the sake of flying...unless you have to fly all the time. (The surgery and recovery for pe tubes sucks more than you would think.)

Old 12-19-2011, 09:07 AM   #6
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Talking Re: Successful treatment of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and/or TMJ?

Hi, Leah and Jenni,

I've got good news on two fronts. I've now experienced over a week of no ear pressure whatsoever, and ears still feel fine after 4 flights in 72 hours. I did have some ringing after the first flight, but it only lasted a few seconds. Also, my right ear is having a little crackling upon swallowing since flying, but no pressure, so I'm not concerned about it.

I'm not sure whether my ETD has just run its course, if the break in symptoms is seasonal, or if it has to do with dietary changes. I stopped drinking coffee a few weeks ago, which, as I reported earlier, alleviated the face/neck pain. Shortly afterward I started taking K12, streptococcus salivarius, a unique probiotic good for ENT health. Google "K12 streptococcus salivarius" and read up on it. All I know is that my ears feel well (not perfect as they once were), but most definitely normal, no longer a distraction. It's been heavenly. I'll take as many days, weeks of this as I can get. Hopefully, I've seen the last of ETD. I'll continue to check in and post updates.

So glad each of us is experiencing improvement! It's heartening!

Cheers and Happy Holidays!
Anne Marie

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