Adult grommet problem

Hello everyone. I hope someone out there can help me with this problem. In September 2012, I got an itchy ear one day & scratched it. What a fool I was as, there was a loud pop in my ear, followed by an immense amount of pain & about one-third hearing loss. (Only just found out a couple of days ago that this was probably a perforated eardrum). I saw two ENT's, the first of which was less than useless, as he had never heard of my problem & said that my hearing test seemed fine. (I had heard less than half of the sounds in my right (damaged) ear, in the hearing test than I did in my left. I saw another ENT, who seemed more helpful. He never mentioned anything about a perforation, but when asked if it may be fluid behind my eardrum, he seemed unsure. (I had seen three doctors and two nurses previously & about half of them said there was definitely fluid there, with the other half saying there definitely wasn't)! I tried all the inhalation suggestions they made & tried three different antibiotics, all to no avail. The hearing came back a bit, but would come & go with one day my ear felt 'full' & on another it was mostly clear. The second ENT offered a grommet, but I said I would think about it & took a few months to decide whether to have it or not. Cutting a very long story short, including a return flight to Mallorca, where I thought it was about to 'blow out' thereby healing itself due to the high pressure (it didn't), I eventually went along with his offer & had a grommet fitted. The moment he put the anaesthetic paste in my ear, I suffered a sharp pain & a feeling of extreme cold from my ear all the way down the right side of my neck, which the ENT said none of this should happen. I went completely deaf in that ear, as I supposed I probably would having a lot of stuff put in there. I also noticed that my head began spinning like a top & for about ten minutes I completely lost my balance & was unable to walk, so remained on the couch. After a while, I got back to normal & he went ahead with the procedure. When he cut my eardrum, he noticed that there was no fluid behind it at all, yet continued to fit the grommet. I went home & waited for the anaesthetic to wear off & my hearing to return. It didn't. I noticed that from the moment he put the paste in my ear, I appear to have lost another third (or more) of my hearing. I also have the tinnitus I had in the middle of my head, playing loudly in my right ear only. I saw another ENT at my local hospital the next day, who said everything looked fine & to give it 6-8 weeks for my hearing to return. I suffered immense pressure in my whole head, as though it was inflating! This was almost unbearable & caused me to have severe panic attacks, which I haven't had in over 20 years. It is now two weeks since the grommet was fitted & apart from the pressure settling down quite a bit, (thank goodness)! There has been absolutely no improvement. I don't seem to be able to hear any 'outside' sounds in my right ear at all, all the sound I am getting appears to be coming in through my head as, putting my finger or an ear plug in my left ear, gives me the same hearing in both ears. It is a muffled & full feeling as though someone has put a finger all the way in my ear & won't take it out. All the forums I have read (apart from this one) are full of conflicting stories, where some people get immediate improvement, some say it settles in a couple of weeks, (where I now am with no improvement) & some who say it never improves, even when the grommet falls out in about nine months! I would love to know if anyone on here has any ideas or suggestions, for example should I have the grommet removed? As, having no fluid to drain, there seems to be no reason to have the thing & I read that if you have one in for too long, the hole never heals. I know that two weeks is nothing & that I should give it more time, but I am feeling really depressed & would have expected even the slightest improvement by now. I even wonder if the anaesthetic may have caused some damage as, at the bottom of my neck where the cold feeling reached, I now have a small lump about the size of two 50 pence pieces. (Which may have been there previously, I never noticed it before though). Sorry for the long story. I have also tried calling the Action on hearing loss helpline, but they had no ideas about what to do at all. Any suggestions will be very gratefully received, thank you.
  • Grommets / ear tubes insertion and removal – MY NIGHTMARE!!

     

    WARNING, WARNING, WARNING.

    If you are an adult and considering getting ear grommets please think very carefully and ONLY consider under the following circumstances:

    1. CONFIRMED tests for glue ear, with obvious fluid seen and diminished hearing (not just ENT guessing there may be some fluid).
    2. Frequent ear infections that you suffer perforations from.
    3. Frequent flying if you have trouble equalizing pressure.
    4. Eustachian tube dysfunction – Apply EXTREME CAUTION for this diagnosis, As ENT use ETD as a term for many unexplained feeling of ear fullness, and for which I was ‘supposedly’ diagnosed with.

     

    My background -

    I never had ANY ear issues and had excellent hearing.

    I would always suffer quite badly with colds and feelings of stuffiness, but they would always resolve.

     

    My story started 18 months ago. I have 2 young children and they had shared many, many colds with me, one time I suffered severe sinusitis. First GP tried treating for allergies, which it wasn’t. Then prescribed a steroid spray and my nose was tip top again. However my ears seem to stay a bit ‘full/blocked/pressured’, worse on the right side. It was annoying and as the weeks passed it was bothering me. I tried more steroid sprays, Sterimar, Otovent, steaming etc. and had no difference. GP finally referred to ENT. 5 MONTHS later, I had my 10 minute appointment with the consultant. He didn’t know what to say, but suggested grommets to try to ‘aerate’ my Eustachian tube and give it a rest and time to recover. It seemed a reasonable idea, I was pleased something could be done and trusted his judgement. Easy – kids do it all the time…… 2 weeks later I was in theatre!

     

    From the moment I woke up I knew something was VERY, VERY wrong. I felt so plugged up like never before, I was 50% deaf, I heard whooshing in my ears (pulsatile tinnitus). I was told they need time to settle and 6 weeks to heal. I had not been warned of ANY of these symptoms and my original issue was 100x worse!

     

    I was sent home and things got worse. Over the next days I felt EVEN more plugged up, sore, pulsatile tinnitus raged all night, my head felt in a goldfish bowl / tunnel. I was terrified. I rang ENT and they confirmed again this is expected. GP also confirmed things were still raw. I tried to persevere and attempted to go to work.

     

    4 weeks later, thankfully most of the worst symptoms had subsided. However what was still most disturbing day to day were the grommets frequently popping (a neat mechanical pop sound) and the pressure changes with the air circulating in my inner ear. I couldn’t concentrate wherever I was – everywhere was weird, and my mental health was deteriorating trying to deal with it. I was signed off sick until it was somehow resolved (I had never had any periods of long term sick, and it hit me hard).

     

    At my 6 week checkup I explained my experience, enough was enough and I wanted them out! Consultant agreed.

    I had another very long, miserable 6 weeks to wait until the removal date. I kept myself busy at home, had school runs to do, had support from friends/family, used relaxation videos and meditation. But I was going crazy, my anxiety levels had skyrocketed, I was having panic attacks and had to speak to a Counsellor on various occasions.

     

    I was a wreck on removal day and petrified things might get even worse. I was also petrified of dealing with the resulting 2mm holes left in my ears and their ability to heal. The removal surgery (general anesthetic) was very quick, and I woke up pleasantly surprised! I felt so happy the evil grommets were gone and things were not much worse!! The surgeon had made the holes bleed to encourage good healing over the next 2 weeks.

     

    The following few days the pulsatile tinnitus was gone, along with the inane ‘popping’, and there seemed to be improvement in the airy, pressure changes. Things were a bit more ‘normal’. Almost immediately I felt more myself so pleased they were gone!

     

    Over the following week there was some horrible resonating on sounds, but a few days in things were definitely improving. I had a small ear camera and could check on the progress of the holes healing. I looked after myself intensely – eating well, no alcohol, resting, no heavy lifting, no getting ears wet, no going out in cold breezes & no sneezing/nose blowing. The holes were slowly closing, each one in a slightly different way. Then on day 14 they had closed completely and I was feeling NORMAL!

     

    Regarding my initial issue with a blocked feeling mainly on the right side, that also was better and my ears felt even. So on that basis it seemed a success. But a truly awful experience to go through.

  • And just to add after the 2 myringotomies I had in 4 days until now my left ear still feel clogged and im sure it has full of fluids again. This is the first time I had this I thinkdue to everyday flying with a flu. Im just lucky not to have this tinnitus thats why im scared if I might have it after the grommet insertion. The suction i had last night is so painful! My diagnosis was acute otitis media with effusion. Pks if anyone out there is online um desperately waiting for a response thank you. I hope all of u are well now especially charlie.
  • Hi everyone I just found this forum today. Im scheduled to have a grommet insertion on my left ear tonight. Now that I have read all ur posts I got scared and having second thoughts of doing it. I am a flight attendant by the way so the ent told me it is better to have the grommets to equalize the air on my ears during take off and landing. I am feelibg so depressed now and I dont want to have this tinnitus thing after the grommets. As 8 noticed the last post was last month so im stil hoping that anyone of u can answer my question. I wanted to ask tristannielson1 how is he feeling now? Because we almost havwle the same situation. I actually had twice myringotomy within 4days because of fluid build up in my mid ear I just had the second fluid suction last night and again tonight I am schedule to have the grommet inserted.could anyoblne pls give me some advice if I have to do it or better not? If not what is the alternative since im due tlfor another flight nxt week? Thanks hope anyone can give ke some advice.

    Ann a flight attendant ;-(
    TRISTANNIELSON1 said:

    Hi Charlie and all, thanks for all the updates. I was wondering how the hearing was now? I had a grommet inserted into my left ear 8 days ago following a bad ear infection - I had pressure in my ear and the muffled sound wouldn't subside after 3 - 4 weeks despite numerous sprays, steroids etc. It was really getting me down and seriously disrupting work and family life.

    The ENT suggested I have fluid and inflammation in the middle ear which a grommet would likely fix. Woke up after a general anesthetic and, like you (and many others I've read about), the hearing's worse than ever, I've constant loud tinnitus in my ear which I never had before, I can hear everything I say like I'm I'm underwater - it's driving me absolutely mad. Truly debilitating at work, I get panicky at the thought of client meetings / presentations and I've basically become totally withdrawn as I struggle to catch much of what's going on around me. Basically I want the damn thing removed as quickly as possible. I'm pretty sure the ENT will say to give it more time, but I just can't wait to get rid of it. Any comfort you or others can give me much appreciated!.


  • Hi TRISTANNIELSON1, sorry I didn't get back to you earlier. I am a lot better now, having had the grommet removed. From April 8th. my hearing continued to improve & now I am almost back to where I was before the thing was fitted. As you haven't posted since April 27th. I hope you are a lot better & that it has all settled down, however if not, I would definitely push to get the thing removed as soon as possible, as that was the best thing for me. I still hear as though my right ear has an ear plug fitted, but really the problem was caused more by the hole in the eardrum, than by the hearing loss. I will probably not improve any more than this, but I am quite happy with how my hearing is now. Good luck with your hearing.
  • So I went back to the ENT a few days ago and told him how miserable I was feeling and wanted it removed. He was sympathetic and told me to wait a further few weeks - that reversing the procedure so soon would be totally the wrong thing to do. He sucked out more liquid from around the grommet, put me on high cortisone, more antibiotic drops etc. He also scheduled me in for an MRI to check there was nothing suspect behind the inner ear (I told him the tinnitus was driving me insane). That will take place Weds. But anyway, the good news is the ear seems less 'angry' now, and whilst it's still blocked if I close my right ear, the tinnitus seems to be a little softer and less disruptive. I've no idea if this is just my brain adjusting or not, and it still worries me I'm never going to get my hearing back properly here. This morning I was lying in bed with my wife and she said it was raining outside - I couldn't hear it and that got me down big time. Anyway, I'll give it some more time and see how things progress. Take care all.