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clogged ear - how long can you take sudafed?
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clogged ear - how long can you take sudafed?

I've been asked to take sudafed or other decongestants to try and help clear up a clogged ear issue, but was told it could take 4-6 weeks before you see any improvement.  

Is it safe to take sudafed for such a long period of time?  Has anyone else had to do this?  What was your experience?
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1061534_tn?1276705661
There is no good evidence that taking drugs such as Sudafed or any other decongestant will clear up a "clogged ear".  I would not recommend that you do that at all.

Many times some (non-ENT) doctors try to treat Eustachian tube dysfunction and/or middle ear fluid with decongestants.  It simply doesn't work.  Only 2 things can correct this problem -- time (even up to 3 months) or making a hole in the ear drum.
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Avatar_n_tn
Here's a brief synopsis of my history:

I had a severe upper respiratory infection a month ago. During this time, a nurse at an office visit cleared out my ears with a bulb syringe (there was wax build-up). After this point, I felt like there was still "water" in my ear. However, the outer ear looked clean on inspection. Two weeks later at a follow up, I discussed with the PA that the "fullness" feeling hadn't disappeared. She mentioned that the outer ear still looked clear, and felt there was probably some fluid in the middle ear. She said my canal is slightly curved, which made it difficult to tell for sure - but the eardrum looked normal and healthy and wasn't bulging one way or the other.

I was told to take decongestants and that my symptoms should clear up within 4-6 weeks. After a week on the decongestants, the symptoms has continued and I also started to have some level of autophony (not severe, but mild to moderate and definitely noticeable almost all the time). The only relief I have from this comes in the morning after having been lying down for quite some time. However, the symptoms are fully back within an hour of getting up.

I'm 35 years old, have no history of allergies, and have never experienced this before. Also, this is only present in my left ear and I have no vertigo, tinnitus, or dizziness. Finally, I also was on an antibiotic (Bactrim) during my illness for a total of 10 days. My main symptoms are "fullness" feeling in the left ear, which includes slight but tolerable pain, and moderate autophony. These symptoms have been present for roughly a month.

Here's my list of questions;
1. Do these symptoms fall in line with ETD?

2. Are there any concerns with taking decongestants over a long period of time? I was essentially told to continue on them for weeks. I originally took claritin and thought things were slightly worse, so switched to sudafed and have been taking this roughly 2 or 3 times each day (2 pills, 60 mg total each time).

2. As I have a bit of a wait for to see an ENT, are there other recommendations besides just waiting it out?  Should I consider going back and asking about steroid nasal sprays and/or the ear popper?  I know you mentioned decongestants simply don't work.  What about these other possibilities based on your experience with others with similar symptoms?

3. Is it possible that the cleaning of the outer ear with a bulb syringe could lead to ETD like symptoms if done improperly? In effect, can it lead to damage to the middle ear?  If so, is this usually permanent?  

Thanks you for any advice or any other additional feedback you can give me with my condition and concerns--
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1061534_tn?1276705661
1.  Probably.  The autophony even suggests something called "patulous Eustachian tube".  This is also commonly relieved with laying down.

2.  Assuming you are otherwise healthy, probably not.  But again, there is no evidence to suggest that this treatment will work at all.  I don't recommend it.

3.  It's a frustrating problem in that there aren't any medicines that treat ETD.  But first this diagnosis needs to be confirmed by an ENT specialist (ie, other things should be ruled out as well).  There is nothing you yourself can do about ETD.

4.  I don't like this method for cleaning ears as I have seen several complications from it.  It shouldn't cause ETD, however.  I have seen damaged drums and infections.  These are not permanent, but can linger for several weeks.
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Avatar_f_tn
From Anna,

Hi ENTMD, I'm having the same problem as rykairn.  10 days ago had my ears cleaned out with a water pick thing.  Ear hurt after she turned it on. I told her and she took it out.  She didn't use it to clean out the ear after that.  Ear still felt stopped up. She looked in it and said it looked a little red.  Told her and the Dr. it still felt stopped up. He told me to try Clartin or something like that. Don't like Clartin cause it reves me up.  Yesterday 9 days later my ear has started hurting. Still can't hear out of it good and it feels like there's still water in it.  Took Sudafed today for the first time. From what you say that won't work. What should I do now?

Your friend,

Anna
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had a blocked eustatian tube  secondary to respiratory infection with major hearing impairment for 10 days. Tried flonase for several days, little effect.Finally tried Sudafed ( 12hr slow release) with clearing of blockage and 50 % regain of hearing within less than 24 hrs. Contnued for 12 more hrs , further improving  hearing then stopped. Relapsed within 12 hrs but responded to sudafed retreatment within 12 hrs. Looks to me like it works  although this is still anecdotal of course
rf6
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello.  My 17 month old son has had MANY ear infections at least 11 in the past 9 months so his pediatrician referred him to an ENT.  The ENT put him on sudafed and antibiotics this was 3 months ago in the meantime he has been taken off the antibiotics but still the ENT wants us to continue giving him 3ML of sudafed each day.  I am getting really frustrated and concerned about him taking sudafed for over 3 months now.  We ended up in the ER because the bacteria is becoming immune to all the antibiotics that he's been on.  I want tubes in his ears, but the ENT said no.  I am really considering getting another ENT??

thx
Tara
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Avatar_f_tn
Forget all the medicine. Pinch your nose and mouth and blow hard. You eustachean tube will be forced open and will make an incredible tearing/ popping sound. The fluid will drain into your nose. End of problem. After a week of useless medications I tried this and could not believe the immidiate relief i got. You have got to blow so hard you are almost dizzy. Thats what it will take.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi I've had blocked  ears for just over 4 weeks now getting this horrible buzzing sound and I wake up with a lot of mucus I'm just terrified that my ears will never unblock! It all started when I had slightly clogged up ears a month ago and has just got worse! I do hear crackling when blowing my nose I have been on antibiotics and some spray for your ears nothing has helped. Have been referred to a ENT doctor any suggestions ?
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