Ear Infection - Recurrance - 10 Years!
Apologies for the length of this post, but there's a lot of history so I thought I'd better give you the facts. I have a pilotís licence and so am VERY reluctant to see a doctor, for fear of losing my medical.
It all started when I was about 10. Going in the pool on holiday in France I must have picked up an ear infection. At the time I just thought it was blocked, so went into the bathroom and blasted my ear with the shower head. I ended up on antibiotics for the rest of the holiday! A few weeks later it disappeared completely and I canít even remember which ear it was.
When I was 15 it happened again, this time in the Bay of Naples, snorkelling. It wasnít so straightforward this time. My parents knew it would be an infection, and it was my left ear. I lost all hearing ability on that side as the swelling closed my ear canal and we had to get a doctor out. I was prescribed antibiotics again and they did absolutely nothing, the pain, unlike before, was unbearable to the point where I was screaming in agony. Every time I swallowed or yawned I had a sensation of acid being poured into my ear, it was excruciating. I was also waking up in the morning with blood on the pillow, every morning without fail. The doctor was called again and she just put the blood down to me sticking my finger in the ear, causing scratches/cuts. I didnít put anything anywhere near my ear, it was just too painful. My hearing came back and the pain went away a few weeks later, but the blood on the pillow continued for a couple of months I think. I didnít dare get my ear wet for a good couple of years after that. My parents to this day are convinced I picked up a parasite or something!
Every holiday since Iíve gone in the pool or sea for the first couple of days, then felt the blocked ear sensation and stayed out of water for the remainder of the holiday, again out of fear.
Iím now going on 26 and have always had more wax coming out of that ear than the other one, but havenít had any problems until about 12 months ago. I started flying at 21, and even that has been trouble free, no matter the altitude.
12 months (ish) ago I noticed that every time I got out of the bath my hearing would go funny, like it was blocked again. There was no pain, so I got into the habit of drying out my ear with tissue (being careful not to rub too hard, Iíd twist the tissue, put it in my ear, allow it to soak up any moisture and then remove it). It worked most of the time, but not all the time. If it didnít work Iíd usually go to bed with impaired hearing and wake up fine. When I first noticed that the bath was causing it I began closing my ear with my finger when water was going near it, to prevent any water ingress. Iíve been doing that since. Sometimes when I used the tissue to dry out my ear there was a lot of wax, sometimes there was none.
Over the last couple of weeks itís gotten worse. I havenít changed any habits or routine, but now my ear seems to close up at even the slightest sign of moisture, i.e. even walking into the bathroom after my girlfriend has been in the bath. The reaction is almost instant, like a blocked ear sensation. I can take an hour or two to go away. I also noticed that there was some kind of link to blood pressure or something. Iíd be fine all day, then when I go to bed itís sort of like the blood running to my head causes swelling in my ear, and it closes even if I havenít been anywhere near any moisture. Itís not painful, but itís frustrating and itís uncomfortable. I canít hear my girlfriend sometimes. Iím also finding that itís taking until lunch time the following day for my hearing to return.
Last night I made a fatal mistake. I was convinced it must have been wax, because I wasnít suffering any pain. Iíve always had narrow ear canals (Iíve never been able to get ear plugs to go in them) and my sister is the same. This time I used a wet cotton bud. It didnít work and I went to bed deaf in one ear again. This morning my ear and the left side of my face in general is hurting, which I think must be down to me messing last night. Itís nothing like it was in Italy, Iíd never felt pain like that before. I darenít do anything now through for fear of it getting worse, and I have an aircraft booked for Sunday. Any ideas? It also pops when I swallow or yawn.
Thanks for taking the time to read!