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.
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  • Grommets / ear tubes insertion and removal – MY NIGHTMARE!!



    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.

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