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Can't Communicate with Otologist
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Can't Communicate with Otologist

I am an American living in China. I showed symptoms of a cold (sneezing, coughing) the afternoon and evening of 9/12. I woke up the next morning with a 'stuffy' feeling in my ear, not painful, and assumed otitis media. I have a long history as an adult with both otitis media and otitis externa. I knew that the drug of choice was amoxicillin, which is OTC here, so I got some. The capsules were 250 mg, and the woman at the pharmacy told me to take 2 pills, 3x/day. By Sunday evening, 9/14, I was experiencing a lot of pain, which told me two things: I probably had developed otitis externa, and I needed to see a doctor. A colleague was assigned to accompany me, since I speak very little Chinese and understand less. The doctor looked in my ears in a very perfunctory manner, prescribed drops (which turned out to be saline) to be inserted 3x/day for 3 days, and then to return. I was in horrible pain for those three days, unable to sleep and unable to get any relief from the pain. I have a prescription for hydrocodone, ostensibly for migraines, but I used nearly half the bottle of 30 just trying to survive until the return visit to the otologist. And the hydrocodone didn't even help!

When we went back to the doctor on 9/18, he had the nurse irrigate both ears--just for good measure? He told me to stop using the drops. He told my escort that everything was fine now. Granted, the severe pain that had plagued me for 3 days was gone, but that's not the end of the story.

It is now over 24 hours since the flushing. I still can't hear out of the left side, there is still pain and tenderness, with little stabs of more severe pain from time to time. My face is swollen in front of my ear, from where the ear joins my face to my jaw. The swollen area is slightly painful to the touch, and soft when pressed. I know that acetic acid is effective in treating otitis externa; the closest thing I have is red wine vinegar! I've tried using vinegar drops, but it doesn't seem to make a difference either way.

My school doesn't seem to believe me when I tell them that whatever infection I have is not gone. How can I know better than the doctor? They deny that there are any other otologists that I can see in this district of 1,000,000 people in a city of 4,000,000. I don't know what to do. I'm not keen on trusting the doctor who made me suffer for 3 additional days before treating my otitis externa. I don't know why he didn't ask me if there were any symptoms other than the ear pain, i.e. facial swelling, deafness. If I could get any kind of opinion or conjecture of what is happening, I would feel a little more secure about insisting on another doctor's visit.

Other information that could, maybe, be relevant: age 55, weight ~285. Very light smoker (2-6 cig. a day for the last 20 months or so. China does that to people.) My temp has consistently been ≥99.5 for the last 2 days.

Can anyone tell me what to do? Should I try a different antibiotic, since the Amoxicillin isn't working? Which one? (They're all OTC) If I have to return to the same doctor, what do I tell him (or have told to him)? What is most significant about my symptoms? This particular doctor didn't talk to me at all, just talked about me to my escort. I have to find a way to make him take me seriously.

I would appreciate any advice, suggestions, guesses, or even home remedies that anyone would care to put forth.

Thank you and xie-xie!
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