I've had issues with my ears for many years and have recently had some issues that concern me. I will start from the beginning. Please bear with me.
I've had sporadic middle ear infections in my left ear during childhood. Each time I was treated and the problem went away. I also used Q-Tips throughout childhood, into my 30's without outer ear issues (until more recently).
Often whenever I traveled I'd have discomfort and my ears would close up for several days. One time about 10 years ago, my left eardrum burst from the pressure of the fluid behind it after a plane trip.
My outer ears became irritated after one day that I swam in the ocean. Ever since that day, I've had outer ear issues on and off. This happened perhaps about 8 years ago.
My outer ear problems, although treated with various drops almost always recur. I feel that I now have dermititis in my ears because they itch and when I scratch them (which I can't help) and pull off wads of skin. I very rarely have pain however. When the condition is worse, the ears weep fluid and the skin on the opening of the canal cracks and is very flaky and red. Generally, ironically, if I swab out the water each day that gets in them in the shower, the dermititis is less. When I don't, large amounts of wax, skin and fluid result that come out in large amounts when I break down and scratch. At that point, the clear fluid in my ears is much greater.
One evening about 2 months ago I used a Q-Tip after I had noticed a huge amount of fluid in my left ear. I had been trying to not put anything in my ear so now I had the high fluid syndrome. I tried to dry it out with the Q-Tip as much as possible. That next morning, I had diminished hearing in that left ear. I went to the doctor and he irrigated the ear and when I told him the hearing hadn't improved he looked again and said I had fluid behind the eardrum. He told me to take a decongestant which didn't work and gave me palpitations. So, I went to an ENT. He immediatelly said I needed a tube and proceeded to place one in the left ear. He also gave me prednisolone for the dermititis (which gave me palpitations but not bad and I finished them out). After a few days, everything was fine. There was just a little dermititis left. I went back a week later and he manipulated the tube and sent me away for 6 weeks. The dermititis returned to some degree over that time. I kept Q-Tips out (except maybe 2 times) and kept ALL water out. I went back today and told him all was fine except there was some return of the dermititis. He indicated (while looking in the right ear) that I had a large wax buildup too. He used suction in the left ear at first then he went and got water and irrigated both ears starting with the right one. Upon finishing I noticed reduced hearing in the left ear but didn't tell him. I asked him about the tubes (I accidentally used the plural) and he said "they're out".
I called him when I got home and told him I had some fullness in the left ear and that even while waiting on the phone there was some popping and some discharge. He said to just use the eardrops he gave me (Acetasol HC) and perhaps some peroxide. Note: He had also prescribed prednisolone again but I haven't taken it.
I thought that the tubes stayed in from 4 months to 2 years? Can the membrane reject the tube and fully heal in 2 months (this is how long ago they were put in)? Could some of the water that was used to irrigate have gone through a still existing tube or perforated membrane? I've had no real pain. Should I be putting drops in that ear if there is a chance of perforation? Am I being too worried since this doctor is a specialist that does this stuff every day? Should I have gotten an oral antibiotic as a precaution? He said he was going to prescribe one then he crumpled it up...I never got one.
I'm unemployed, trying to start a business and have an indemnity plan with a $10,000 deductable (for catastrophies). I'm already out over $600 on this. I hate asking doctors questions directly because in the past they cop an attitude and act like I don't trust them (I don't)...although this doctor hasn't done that to be fair.
I really don't want to undergo excruciating pain if an infection develops. But, if it is just water trapped behind some earwax that has remained in the ear, I don't want to have to pay for another office visit. But, isn't it suspicious that the problem is with the same ear that the tube was installed in? Should I wait a few days for this to clear and put the drops in that he prescribed? Or should I go back and insist that he re-examine me?
Just a follow up that may be helpful to those worry worts like me. I followed the doctors instructions and all of the fullness, loss of hearing, problems in the ear canal etc. have gone away. This doctor is awesome...its too bad they aren't all like him. So, I was worried for nothing.
I assume that certain tubes come out much earlier than the 6 months to 2 years. Perhaps this is especially true for adults. I'd still be open to any info on the time frames if someone has researched it.
So, moral of the story is trust your doctor unless you have a real problem...don't go looking for problems.
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