I’m All Ears.

31 Jan

As a kid, I had a lot of ear infections. As an adult, I still do because I’m stuck in a Catch 22.

Because of all my ear infections growing up, I now have a condition they call Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. The Eustachian tube is what makes your ears pop to keep the pressure on the inside and outside of your ear the same.

Even though the Eustachian tube is always at work (it opens and closes with each yawn or swallow), most people only notice their ears pop when ascending/descending in altitude (like flying) or possibly when they have nasal congestion. But when your Eustachian tube malfunctions, it’s very obvious.

I started noticing it when I’d get a cold. My ears would pop a lot and I’d be able to hear my own voice inside my head (which is very weird, by the way). When the cold went away, so did the symptoms, for the most part. But that was in college when I never cooked anything besides turkey sandwiches and cereal, I lived in a house with 5 other girls, and spent a lot of time surrounded by other students – meaning I got sick a lot. (Travis still remarks about this, though I only get sick once every 18 months or so now.) It seemed like I was always sick in high school and college. So my ears were frequently bothering me.

Finally, I had had enough. It was miserable living that way. I went to the ear doctor and they made me do at least half a dozen hearing tests, in addition to looking in my ear with their lighted instrument. They asked, “Did you have a lot of ear infections as a kid?” Why yes, yes I did.

After all of that, they sat me down and said that I had Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. They described what it was and said that since my ears still popping (as opposed to being completely shut or completely open) and my hearing was still fine, I didn’t need surgery. But then they said something that made me almost cry.

“There’s not much we can do about it.”

What? You mean I have to live like this the rest of my life?!?!?

As I choked back tears, they explained that the only thing they could do was put in ear tubes, but they usually cautioned against that in adults because it could leave a permanent hole in my eardrum. Well, I didn’t want that. And ear tubes sounded creepy. So I just left, utterly disappointed.

That was about 7 years ago.

Today, my ears still pop every time I swallow but I’ve gotten used to it. And I am soooo incredibly thankful that the condition is just an annoyance, instead of one that would cause deafness or actual pain.

But the Catch 22 is that my Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, which was caused by ear infections, is now causing ear infections. An article on Livestrong says:

In many cases, the Eustachian tubes are either too narrow or are blocked due to irregularities in the surrounding structures. For those individuals, frequent ear infections may recur due to the failure of the Eustachian tubes to drain the middle ear.

I’ve had so many ear infections that I can tell if I have one by just pushing on the outside of my ear. If it hurts, it’s infected. I go into the doctor and say, “Have ear infection. Need antibiotics.” (But they never believe me, so they get out their lighted instrument and stick it in my ear anyway.)

Right now, I have an ear infection. Every time I blow my nose, my ears pop and my right ear hurts. This time, instead of going to the doctor, I’m trying a natural remedy – garlic oil.

My friend Carrie told me about this (she uses it for her kids) and swears that it works. And because the Internet agrees, it must be true. I read here that garlic can cure ear infections because it has antibiotic properties. Who knew?

That same article gives this recipe for making garlic oil:

 

Things You’ll Need

 

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 glass measuring cup, microwave safe
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
  • Cheesecloth
  • Small jar with lid
  • Eye dropper or syringe
  • Cotton balls
  1. Pour the olive oil in the glass measuring cup. Chop two peeled cloves of garlic and place in cup. Microwave the oil for about a minute. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain the oil through a piece of cheesecloth to remove the garlic pieces. Place the oil in a covered jar and store it in the refrigerator. The oil will keep for about three weeks.
  3. To use the oil, place 1 tsp. over an open flame until lukewarm. Test the oil on the back of your hand to make sure it’s not too hot. Have the person lie down, infected ear up. Fill the dropper or syringe and put 1 or 2 drops of oil in the affected ear. Insert a cotton ball in the ear for 30 minutes. Repeat every 1 to 2 hours.

I did this last night but didn’t have a dropper and wasn’t sure if I was doing it right (and was too lazy to find out for sure). My ear feels a little better but still hurts so I will be doing this again tonight.

Have you had a lot of ear infections? Ever tried a natural remedy instead of antibiotics?

5 Responses to “I’m All Ears.”

  1. B. in the Know January 31, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    I don’t know if I’ve never really had one, or if it is more I just never go to the doctor because off of your description I think I have had one or two before. Whoops! I am a fan of trying natural ways of healing though – I like to run to the coop and have them help me out.
    Much love,
    B

  2. bearrunner January 31, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    very interesting… My ears pop when I swollow too. I thought it was from pushing earbuds to far in my ear and causing them to clog. Maybe I did something more serious to them

    cheers

  3. Heidi Nicole February 1, 2012 at 4:13 am #

    I had my fair share of ear infections as a real little kid and ended up with tubes at least once, or so I’m told. But my ears don’t bother me now. I can only imagine how annoying it is…we spent the weekend in the mountains when I had a bad head cold a few weeks ago, my ears were constantly popping!

    In middle school/HS I got walking pneumonia a lot, like 2+ times a year but I only had the pneumonia symptoms in the early AM, late PM…when we weren’t at the doctor’s office. That was always fun to get meds for but having a mom that was a nurse in the same hospital helped a bit!

    Get better!

  4. Running in Mommyland February 1, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    I had a ton of ear infections when I was a kid, too. I even have trouble hearing in one of my ears now. This was a great and interesting post!

  5. Running in Mommyland February 1, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    p.s. I blogged about your post re: Aspaeris shorts, but I couldn’t figure out how to link you within an attached picture. Will work on it…maybe I’ll be able to figure it out.

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