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Rick540 01-25-2009 01:05 AM

Throat Cancer or Ear Problem?
32 year old male here. Pack a day smoker for 18 years and sill smoking unfortunately. Heavy coffee drinker (instant). Used to be a heavy drinker but quit at 26 and been sober since. 6'0" tall 315 pounds but fairly muscular from past construction work. Could still lose about 50 pounds though.

I'll try to make this short...

About a year and a half ago I started riding a motorcyle. I wore a half helmet and my ears were always exposed to the wind which after a long ride makes you feel like you've been in a rock concert. After a few months of riding I started noticing a definite increase in ear wax which I assumed was due to wind exposure. Before I started riding I usually cleaned my ears out using Q-tips about once a month or so. After noticing all the earwax though, I went to about once a week.

So the riding season ended and I put my bike up for the winter. Even though I wasn't riding I still seemed to be producing a lot of earwax. Then around December of last year I noticed some slight tinnitus in my right ear that really never went away. Then my right ear started itching a lot deep inside. A month or so after I started getting periodic burning and soreness in my tonsil area on the right side as well.

As I mentioned, I drink a lot of coffee, smoke, and I enjoy massively spicy food as well. Put it all together and you get a recipe for heartburn which I do get quite frequently and have been getting for about 2 or 3 years. Usually I just take a Zantac when needed and always take one before bed. On more than a few occasions I've eaten spicy food before bed and forgotten my Zantac though. This usually results in waking up about 3 hours later with pure molten lava fire acid in my throat that wakes you up from a deep sleep.

So I end up going to a free clinic in my town since I don't have insurance. The looked in my ear, shined a their little pin light in my throat and said it looked okay. They had no explanation or anything. Stupid me, I said "do you think it could be reflux". The doctor said "you're probably right" and put me on Nexium. I took the nexium for a couple months and did help the heartburn (nor really any better than Zantac though), but did nothing for my low grade tinnitus the occaisonal soreness and burning my throat.

Becoming more concerned, I scraped up money and went to a "real" doctor. He again said he saw nothing and told me to go see an ENT doctor. Again I got the money together and went to an ENT. This was back in the summer. Like everyone else he had no explanation and pretty much just said to quit smoking and lose some weight. The ENT did however look in my throat with a mirror. He said my vocal cords looked a little red but it wasn't any thing to worry about.

So now it's been over a year since all this started. My ear still rings, itches, and sometimes feels as though there's pressure in it. It also "thumps" sometimes like there's a tiny bass drum in there. My throat burns almost constantly and the discomfort has moved down into the upper part of my chest. My throat also feels like there might possibly be a lump in there but it's not hard to swallow or anything. I have noticed that sometimes when eating hard food like chips and it rubs the irritated area on the right side of my throat, my ear will itch. I've also noticed a slight tenderness in the lymph nodes around my jaw area from time to time. To me they feel swollen sometimes but when my wife feels them she says they feel normal. I think shes just saying that because she's knows how concerned I've become about all this. I've tried ear wax removal drops because I thought it might be compacted wax in there but it didn't help. I also irrigated with peroxide which did get wax out but didn't cure anything. The past few months I've tried to not clean my ears at all but sometimes my right ear itches so bad I think "maybe if I clean it then it'll quit itching".

Yes I know I haven't lost any weight, quit smoking, quit drinking coffee, or quit eating spicy food since all this started, but my gut tells me that it's either an ear problem that isn't related to any of that or else it's throat cancer. I've really wanted to quit doing all those things but it's always "tomorrow I'll quit". The more I worry about what might be wrong with me the more I smoke and drink coffee. It's like a vicious cycle really.

I'm planning on seeing another ENT ASAP and getting to the bottom of this even if I have to spend our whole entire tax return on it. I'm at my wits end. I looked up throat cancer symptoms earlier and with the exception of the tinnitus all my symptoms are those associated with throat cancer. But at the same time all this started when I noticed the excessive ear wax and then the tinnitus started. Maybe some sort of blockage and/or drainage from my ear going into my throat and irritating it? Given my current and past lifestyle though I think cancer might also be a possibility. But maybe it is reflux? Maybe the acid is coming up in small amounts at night and getting into my ear canal though the eustachian tube? I used to always sleep on my right side but about 3 months ago changed sides and now sleep on my left. It hasn't helped. Also in the morining I usually am coughing for a couple minutes and my right lung feels raw as if i've been running in cold air.

Truthfully I have no idea. Any support, advice, or opinions are appreciated. After seeing those throat cancer symptoms, I'm pretty scared and concerend even more than ever.


QQton 01-25-2009 02:50 AM

Re: Throat Cancer or Ear Problem?
Hey Rick, frist tip remain clam, I had the same prob you had, I was a heavy smoker about two packs a day and I drank tons of coffee. Started with a little pain in the ear then to The right side of my throat turned out I had an abscess on my tonsil, I'm actully in recovery stage atm.

Trix1981 01-27-2009 11:09 AM

Re: Throat Cancer or Ear Problem?
First piece of advice.. NEVER NEVER EVER use Q-Tips to clean in your ears. In the past I used Q- Tips literally every day in my "Get Ready For Work" Routine, I would wake up, shave, shower, and the use Q-Tips to clean my ears.

I started losing my hearing in 1 ear, the ear that usually had the most wax - I got the run around from clinics and hospitals...until I finally got referred to my ENT (Best Doctor Ever). What I was actually doing, every time I used a Q-tip, I was pushing wax right into the ear drum. And then packing it in harder every time I used a Q-Tip.....I didn't even stick the Q-Tip all the way in the canal.

This is what caused my hearing loss, but it was also giving me constant sore throats. I guess when the ears get infected, so do the tonsils. Like QQ, I am also in recovery, had my tonsils removed 5 days ago - but I will never ever use a Q-Tip Again...

I actually get my ears "candled"...not sure if you heard of it or not...but they burn a candle over your ear and it actually pulls the wax out...I get it done about every 3 months...and it costs me $20. You'll be surprised the stuff they get out of you.


violet6 01-28-2009 08:12 AM

Re: Throat Cancer or Ear Problem?
Hi there! Just wanted to say that the ear itching could be something as simple as allergy...maybe even to the smoke, but also to something else like dust mites or pollen. Tinnitus can have many causes, often to see good doc for that; ENT might be good place to start. My vestibular therapist also does tinnitus therapy. Check out VEDA web site.

Regarding your throat symptoms, would the ENTs not know how to recognize throat cancer? I'm not sure. But I would get that checked out thoroughly and soon. As with all cancers, it's best to catch it early.

Good luck!

violet6 01-28-2009 08:14 AM

Re: Throat Cancer or Ear Problem?
Oops--just wanted to add that I would protect my ears while riding just for hearing loss issues; also, don't think the ear wax indicates anything, but don't know much about that...

dhill2020 04-02-2009 08:58 AM

Re: Throat Cancer or Ear Problem?
rick, please answer if you get this message I was afraid of cancer too see first reply

InTheKnow 08-02-2011 10:04 PM

Re: Throat Cancer or Ear Problem?
[QUOTE=Trix1981;3864372]I actually get my ears "candled"...not sure if you heard of it or not...but they burn a candle over your ear and it actually pulls the wax out...I get it done about every 3 months...and it costs me $20. You'll be surprised the stuff they get out of you.[/QUOTE]

Sorry to necro this thread, but just wanted to clear up a fact here.

Earwax Candles are a complete hoax. Read the package they come in, they all have a disclaimer explaining they are for "entertainment purposes only". There is absolutely no way a candle, the fire, or the smoke, or any other ridiculous claim they make could create anywhere near enough suction to pull ear wax out from inside the ear canal. Furthermore, if it did create even close to enough suction it would completely rupture your ear drum long before it pulled even the tiniest bits of ear wax out...

Try burning one of those "magic" candles all by itself if you don't believe that it is just a gimmick to make you waste money. And then just for kicks go ahead and burn one up against your ear and cut them both open and compare. You will quickly realize they turn out exactly the same. If anything, it is actually slightly dangerous due to the heat and potentially the flame being so close to your ear canal.. :eek: Some people are crazy.

I really can't believe some people still argue and think this isn't scam.. I guess P. T. Barnum's famous quote is completely accurate, "A sucker born every minute." :jester:

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