Saturday, February 2, 2008


Have you ever been grimacing over a pain that should have not been there in the first place? Have you, in the whole stretch of 2 weeks + some days experienced that nagging pain, not once, but mockingly twice in a year, making it an unwanted annual twin commemoration of a painful event? Do you, in your idle time, find things to clean (and re clean) thoroughly – scouring the toilet spotless; sanitizing , deodorizing, until it is dustless and stainless you can almost lick it’s bath tiles?

Well, I have. I have equally done a similar clean up act that caused me to guard my right ear for dear life, careful not to pull or tug it by accident that will cause undue harm. Yes, I am talking about an ear ache that left me annoyed, irritable and somehow sleepless. Sometimes, and more often than not, health practitioners can ironically be stubborn than they are expected to be. :D

My ears are in a constant itchy state, or maybe that was just how I perceived it as dirty. I would clean (abuse) it every so often daily, using those beloved pliable cotton tips . Ahh, what ecstasy . I would probe and probe , rotating relentlessly that tiny tool cohort in my quest to win a non -existent cleanest ear contest. EVERY INCH OF MY EAR. No stopping until I don't see any smudge of dirt, making sure that the cotton bud is immaculately white - a signal to stop the wicked act.

How much do I really use /day? About 10-12 double-ended cotton tips and a little over than that sometimes when swept with the hygienic wave. I just need to satisfy that ultimate dose of that ear-clean fix. Beat that.

I really don't know why but I have quite an unusual desire to make everything spic –and- span, shiny and glittery, dry yet not scaly- but matte, fresh and moisturized, clean and cleaner, am I obsessive- compulsive or what, lol. Nah, I am mentally stable.
Perhaps this is also an offshoot from mom's consistent prodding to make everything tidy. But well, just like everybody else, we all have our own quirks and this is mine.

Well today, the ENT (Ear Nose Throat) specialist saw me. After the usual greetings, I readily supplied the ENT with pertinent info about my ear problems- the pain involved, the frequency ,duration of clean time, the ringing of the ears and the congestion I feel as well as the remedies I sought for myself like using Paracetamol for the pain in my right ear. He sounded like he could not believe what he saw when he peered into my ears through his otoscope. He said to me sardonically, " Why do you have to do this so bad?". The replies crowding in my head were " So you can squeeze money from me" and " Well, you should be thankful you have me as an additional patient to mighty practice your specialty." Nah, of course I did not say those. "It is good you can still hear me at this distance quite well.", he added. Hearing that eased me up a bit. " Is my eardrums still intact?", I quipped.

Luckily, the doctor said it seems like it is as he does not observe signs of perforation yet, no liquid exudates like blood and pouring waxy substances. But he told me that my severely swollen ear canal covers the entire circumference of my eardrum. So that was why he just cannot see it yet! I knew that there was swelling alright, but never thought that it's presence would last even until now when the pain is over for 4 days already. I was hell -bent to succeed recuperating by myself since this is not the first time it happened to me.

Last year's 2nd (and last) infection was a milder form, only taking me 2-3 days to be relieved. I thought I could buy and employ the same otic medication that the ENT I saw last year gave me. But , congratulate me for not self -medicating that antibiotic. =) That time of great pain felt and the uneasiness I still feel up to now would, in my honest opinion, excuse anybody suffering from that "malady" to just grab ANYTHING for relief!

Now this is what you should know.

Here is an image representation of the ear's anatomy showing a separate view of the eardrum just a little below the entire ear parts.

Sound waves collected by the pinna [auricle] travel through the ear /auditory canal and upon reaching the tympanic membrane [eardrum] vibrate. The 3 small bones vibrate as well, sending this same vibration to the inner ear -
the snail like shaped cochlea. Inside it, the sounds are transformed as electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries or transmits this signal to the brain which the brain now interprets as sound.

See the short video below.

Otitis Media is inflammation and infection of the middle ear. Otitis means infection and media means middle. While it mostly affects 75% of infants and children, it can definitely affect adults alike [like moi]. Usually, Otitis Media starts with sore throats, colds and other respiratory problems. This is so because the Eustachian tube is connected to the back of the nose to the middle ear. When liquid pools there for long, bacteria and virus settles. This also affects hearing as the Eustachian tubes equalizes the pressure between the middle ear cavity and the atmosphere outside by allowing fluid and mucus to drain outside of the middle ear cavity. Infection from extreme manipulation (via cleaning) of the ears will surely cause just the same.

Note: If you have children and infants, be aware of the usual signs of an ear infection : constant crying, persistent tugging and pulling of the ear ,irritability, difficulty sleeping, fever and a loss of balance. Keep in mind that the they are more prone to ear infections as their immune system are just developing and their Eustachian tubes are shorter, narrower and more horizontal. Bottle feed your child upright, limit exposure to respiratory infections, avoidance of pacifier use beyond 10 months of age, avoidance of exposure to passive smoking as it is found out to be an allergen contributing to ear infections and ensure that your child's immunizations [including influenza] is up-to-date. Cold medications , anti histamines and decongestants do not relieve Otitis Media.

DISCLAIMER: In no way are the suggested preventive measures meant to replace seeking your doctor. Consulting your doctor when symptoms arise is still the best option.

The absence of the terrible right ear pain is not a consolation for the fullness I feel in my head. The congestion in my right ear feels like there is a vacuum nestled inside my ear, sucking all the sound away. Overbearingly annoying. Voices and other forms of sound are muffled and I have to strain and move closer most of the time to pick up where the source of a particular sound comes from. Noooo, no way will I get a hearing loss. Am I on the verge of it? I hope not. There were even times it precedented an unwanted headache. I also hear a continuous ringing of my ears (tinnitus) which is bad. Blame me. I know. It's my fault

This is the prescription handed to me by the ENT specialist and my new found bestfriends ; the anti- infective ear drops and oral antibiotics, lol.

I was prescribed an anti-infective and anti-inflammatory otic [ear] drops and a week of the 4x-in -a day-of-500 mg oral antibiotic intoxication!! 500 mg - 4x in a day! God, I need to be drugged this much?! He said he cannot rely on the otic drops alone as my ear canal is severely mammothing over my tympanic membrane[eardrum], that thin sheath of tissue protecting the inner ear from middle ear infections. Arrgh! I hate antibiotics. Once, I suffered from a gastrointestinal distress after 2 doses, and that, let me tell you, was taken in after meals, as per that doctor's advice! Anyway, antibiotics either inhibits or eliminates, or do both, the growth of bacteria in the body. It has a broad use against infections and similarly, adverse effects vary.

What I am worried about right now is the 4 doses prescribed by the specialist to me. I asked for a lower dose but the informidable doctor smiled sweetly and said," Believe me, this is what you need" . I acquiesced to my doctor's order for the following reasons ; being able to enjoy reading (as I love to read a lot) without the annoying humming sound and thus more concentration, saying goodbye to my highly irritable periods , and saving my face from answering phone no 2 when phone no 1 was the one ringing which happened to me days ago, lol!

After I thought everything was discussed, I thanked the doctor and prepared to leave. I think that the doctor read my mind very well that I can be a bit stubborn with the urge to just stick, rotate and collect some real and imaginary dirt from my ears. I was about to leave the doctor's office when he said " And oh - please, don't clean your ears yet" . Of course, being an advocate of the clean brigade movement, lol, I haggled with the specialist for me to at least clean my ears one time daily, even ONLY after a bath. I promised that I would be oh-so-gentle, pleading like it is a part of the grand scheme of my life for him to take that privilege away from me. But he was immovable. Goodness! This is the penance for that sinful act, lol.

"Not just yet", he told me rather sternly. "Until I say so please. AND - try not to have that right ear wet from your taking a bath. No swimming too. I repeat -- he said, as if his instructions were vague, NO CLEANING OF EARS YET, MS. --- . Please be back on your next appointment"

Arrgh. Geez, how long must I wait when I can already do the delicious act? I have to see the ENT after 10 days so he can check the progress of my ailing right ear. I hope the condition is better by then and that I be allowed to resume cleaning my ears again-- this time , within the norm. =)

Lesson learned: Being an RN doesn't give you the liberty to clean to your heart's content.