Blocked eustachian tube, no infection, facial and arm nerve trouble
by Cactus girl, Nov 17, 2007
For the last month, I've had a pain in the middle left of my head.  It feels like it is at the top of the back of my nose....if that makes sense.  After the first week, it seemed to migrate down a bit and I felt like I had a deep ear infection in my left ear.  Simulataneously, I noticed problems with a numbness/tinglyness/warmness or weird feeling in my left arm.  It seems weakened.

I'm no stranger to ear infections, as I had them occasionally as a child (I never had tubes, though) and I get them as an adult usually at the tail end of a cold/flu.  So this seemed out of place because I have not had any cold or flu.

I went to the ER back in the middle of October and was shocked when they told me my ear was NOT red.  It hurt so bad and felt so much like an ear infection, I was convinced it was.  They gave me Roxicet for the pain and sent me on my way.

After 4 days, the intenseness pretty much went away, but I still felt a "sensation" in the middle left of my head.  I had an MRI for my arm numbness and blurry vision (to rule out MS) and although they found asymmetry of a gyrus in front of the right occipital lobe and under the corpus callosum, two neurologists agreed that it is normal "anatomical variation" like if you have one foot slightly bigger than the other.  

Well, that sensation has intensified in the last week in my head and ear and added was a slightly painful sensation under my left eye to the side of my nose.  It feels like compression of the nerve in my face.   I am still having trouble with left arm feeling strange.  

It occured to me that maybe my eustachian tube was blocked.  I noticed I could not get my left ear to pop.

I went and got Sudafed and had a lot of relief for about 12 hours.  I took the maximum dosage and quickly noticed that although the medication was being taken regularly, all the symptoms returned and failed to be alleviated again.

It seems to me that I have more trouble with the symptoms the later in the day it gets.  I feel best in the morning.  (I do have an anxiety issue and wonder how much of this is actually physical and how much is psychological.).  

I can finally pop my left ear on occasion by plugging, blowing, and wiggling my jaw.  But it seems to close right back up and I feel the ear squeeze pain.  I still have that weird sensation in my head and my arm.  I can also still feel it under my eye, but that symptom is better.

I can't find anything anywhere about a blocked eustachian tube causing nerve problems other than the nerves in the face.  It just seems to me that after a month of dealing with these symptoms, that my arm issue is directly related to the pain in the middle of my head/ear.

What could all of this be???

I hope someone can help me.

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Member Comments (29)
by Cactus girl, Nov 18, 2007
I am convinced this is an infection afterall

Back in October when I went to the ER and they gave me Roxicet for the pain and no antibiotics, I dug up my old partial leftover one of Erythromycin in the medicine cabinet.  I took all that was left which was only a couple days' worth, but it responded and I felt so much better.  I thought I'd pretty much killed it.

Then it came back last week.  I've suffered with it all week knowing the doctors were going to say my ear looked fine and was not infected and here's some Roxicet for the pain.

So I posted here and then searched high and low and found another partially unfinished antibiotic  Cephalexin. (I know I'm not supposed to do that and I only did so in desperation since these doctors do not believe I have an infection)   I took 2 yesterday and it is like a MIRACLE!  My tube is still somewhat blocked, but the pain is completely gone and my arm feels normal!  I can feel junk running down the back of my throat.

I'm calling my regular doctor tomorrow as I will be out of that antiobiotic I found and I really don't want this cycle to start all over.  I hope he recognizes this is a very deep infection and apparently doesn't show in my ear drum, but is much higher up.

I'm relieved.
by Enoch Choi, MDBlank, Nov 19, 2007
eustachian tube is probably blocked causing serous otitis media (otitis media with effusion), the MRI may have mentioned something about the ears?
Saline nasal rinses and steroid nasal inhalers help. Ask your doctor today for this.

Don't take old partient leftover antibiotic prescriptions like the cephalexin or erythromycin, who knows if it's still good?  A couple days of antibiotics doesn't do anything for sinusitis, it takes 10 days or more.
by Cactus girl, Nov 20, 2007
Thanks for your response.  Yes, I did check the Erythromycin before taking it and it was not expired.

My doctor checked my ear yesterday and said that the drum appeared "sucked in".  He said he could not see "the cone of light" which apparently the reflection from the otoscope when the ear drum is flat as it should be.  

He prescribed 3 days of Prednisone and a course of Azithromycin.  Hopefully this will do the trick, otherwise my next stop is an ENT.
by Enoch Choi, MDBlank, Nov 20, 2007
Ear exam (otoscopy) that shows "sucked in" eardrum is what we call "retraction" with negative pressure in the middle ear.

"the cone of light" is seen when the drum looks normal, and reflects light off of its convex surface

Prednisone is an oral steroid, to fight inflammation

Zithromax is an antibiotic to kill bacteria

An ENT is a good idea if you have recurrent sinusitis, chronic symptoms.
by Cactus girl, Nov 21, 2007
I think my doctor was very optimistic the steroid and antibiotic would knock this out. Now that I've completed the 3-day course of the Prednisone  (40 mg every day), I'm convinced it won't.

Of most note, is that I notice I feel MUCH better in the mornings.  As the day wears on and by afternoon, my symptoms worsen and into the evening I'm MISERABLE.  I'm now wondering if this is likely due to the fact that this problem is positional?

I can feel that my ear drum is still sucked in and my eustachian tube slams shut almost as soon as I open it and it is getting harder to open again.  My arm (same side as ear) numbness and strange sensation is directly proportional to my ear.  The worse my ear feels, the worse my arm feels.  The better my ear feels (in the mornings) the better my arm feels.

Can you comment on the likelyhood of my arm problems being connected to my ear situation?

It appears as soon as I finish the Z-pack, I'll be calling my doctor for that referral to the ENT.  What would the likely treatment be?
by Enoch Choi, MDBlank, Nov 21, 2007
Your arm problems in your arm are not likely to be connected to your ear problem

It may take a few days for the prednisone to help

An ENT may place tubes if you have recurrent, chronic infections:

by jared85, Sep 25, 2008
I have been having more-or-less the same problem for almost 2 months. Its terrible!

I have seen 3 GPs, 2 ENTs, and 2 Chiropractors, and 1 internist. A lot of those docs just gave me BS diagnoses because I look generally young and healthy but this is not going away!!

Exact SAME thing. Pain started in left ear. Swore it was ear infection, ever doc who looks in my ear says its fine.. yada yada. Pain shooting down side of my neck, different areas different times.. not muscular.. nerves!!!

Going to a new ENT tomorrow and I am going to beg.

How did you ever resolve your problem???? ?/?

The pain is getting worse, just like you said as my last Doc recommended trying sudafed.. thought I was getting better then I crashed worse than ever.